Born in England in 1945, she spent her early years in Brazil and arrived in Auckland at the age of eight with a heavy Portugese-flecked accent—and her mother’s hope of a better life for Angela and her sister, Teresa.
The girls’ parents, who met in Europe in the 1940s, separated when their daughters were still young. Among her mother’s first solo decisions upon arriving in Auckland was homeschooling Angela in a number of languages, including her Orthodox Jewish grandmother’s native Yiddish, which gave D’Audney an early enthusiasm for the burgeoning communications field.
She began her local broadcasting career in 1962 working for with old New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. In 1973, still at the NZBC, she became the country’s first newsreader, before going on to long-present the longrunning arts show Kaleidoscope as well as acting in the made-for-television play The Venus Touch, which offended some local sensibilities for a scene where D’Audney appears topless.
During the 1980s and into the following decade she presented current affairs shows such as Eye Witness News and filled in as a weekend newsreader.
As the television gave her career life, so it signalled it slipping away: After complaining to her doctor that she was having trouble reading the autocue, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. “Over four days my speech was slightly slurred, and then my whole grasp of language became a problem,” she later said. “By the Monday before my operation, things were so bad I couldn't even write a cheque."
Her Jewish origins, however, never faded from sight. In her memoir, published shortly before her death, D’Audney, wrote about the balm of Judaism during what she could already see would be her twilight months. “The wonderful thing about being Jewish,” she wrote, “is that you are always Jewish, no matter what. It’s inalienable.” Even though she had not attended synagogue for years up until that point, she said, “the rabbi at Beth Shalom … welcomed me with open arms,” and she was using what time she had left to “take my friends along to Beth Shalom, one by one, to demystify Judaism for them. I’d hate my friends to feel alienated at my funeral.” On that score, as with her highly respected career in broadcasting, she was not to be disappointed.
Image header (above): Angela D’Audney. Copyright TVNZ
Listen to a series of three 8 minute TVNZ interviews with Angela D'Audney at http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/today-live-angela-daudney-2000