Saturday, 06 December 2014 13:30

 

Minister of Education Hon, Steve Maharey and Connie with the club’s silverware and plaque

Connie with NZ Book Council ceo Lincoln Gould and Fairfax political columnist Vernon Small

Connie with husband Dr Charles Sneiderman and Radio New Zealand chairman Richard Griffin

Connie with Fairfax columnist and Radio Live host Sean Plunke

Connie with Hon Steve Maharey, Carrick Lewis, and Norrie Lewis

For a generation from Washington Connie Lawn every week day morning brought to the radio listeners of the world’s remotest English-speaking nation news from the White House.
 

New Zealanders time zones ahead usually heard the breaks before their counterparts in the United States. Connie Lawn was as much a part of the New Zealand way of life as their rugby version of football or a sheep shearing gang.
 

Then she was gone, and with her the intimate first-person portrayals of the decisions and the decision makers at the fulcrum of the Western World. Connie Lawn had been scythed aside in one of the ritual restructurings that are part of mainstream broadcasting everywhere. In this particular rite of passage she was replaced by local content, mostly in the form of contrived news notably sport.
 

If Radio New Zealand was finished with her, Connie Lawn was not finished with New Zealand. For the best part of the intervening generation her voice in the southern latitudes was rarely stilled.
 

Being heard, for example, in regular bulletins on Radio Live.  Since the advent of the internet she is a regular contributor to Scoop, the nation’s version of the Huffington Post.
 

She has been unofficial ambassador for New Zealand pointing in the right direction through the Washington maze fellow journalists, listeners, business people, diplomats, in fact, anyone at all who asks for help.
 

In 2006 she was presented in Parliament with the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You may not always agree with what Miss Lawn says. But you are never left in any doubt about what she is saying. Outlining in her acceptance speech her own journalistic career in Washington which started in 1968, and which subsequently encompassed marriage and motherhood she dwelled on the trade’s willingness in that era to give opportunity to women.
 

Now, in contrast, she noted, there were so many other and different career opportunities available for young females.
 

“Women can have better things to do,” she told her audience in the Parliamentary auditorium. “There are now so many careers for women outside journalism,” she insisted to her listeners many of whom had anticipated a feminist anti discriminatory appeal.
 

A few years later she was presented by Ambassador Mike Moore at the New Zealand embassy in Washington with the Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to New Zealand-U.S. Relations.
 

Now though the woman who always chose to compete on equal terms with everyone finds herself battling an enemy who she knows is each day getting the upper hand.
 

For the past years, since she was 65, she has been afflicted by Parkinson’s Disease which most cruelly of all has robbed her of her voice. Though not of her ability to type her regular insightful bulletins to The Huffington Post, and Scoop, among others.
 

She applies full disclosure to her affliction. Not for sympathy. But because “it makes me stagger and I do not want people to think that I am drunk.”
 

For Connie Lawn, honours tend to arrive unsought. She is now the Dean of the White House Press Corps, following the death of Helen Lawrence. She has rubbed shoulders with every president from Lyndon Johnson onward, has interviewed more international icons living and dead than practically anyone else on earth. Has skied most of the world’s signature ski slopes and in New Zealand had a race horse named after her.
 

Connie Lawn’s career proves that any obstacle is just an opportunity in disguise and should be treated as such.

 

You May not always agree with what Miss Lawn says…….
But you are never left in any doubt what she is saying.



Previous page: Dean of the White House Press Corps Connie Lawn and husband Dr Charles Sneiderman in the White House with President Obama and Mrs Obama.


At the reception at Parliament on the occasion of the presentation to Connie Lawn in 2006 of the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
 



At left from the top. Minister of Education Hon, Steve Maharey and Connie with the club’s silverware and plaque;
Connie with NZ Book Council ceo Lincoln Gould and Fairfax political columnist Vernon Small;
Connie with husband Dr Charles Sneiderman and Radio New Zealand chairman Richard Griffin;
Connie with Fairfax columnist and Radio Live host Sean Plunket;
Connie with Hon Steve Maharey, Carrick Lewis, and Norrie Lewis.

 



Below: In 2012 Connie was presented with the New Zealand order of Merit by ambassador Mike Moore at the New Zealand Embassy, Washington. Ambassador Moore is a former prime minister of New Zealand and a former head of the World Trade Organisation. He is a regular speaker at the National Press Club in Wellington.. 

In 2012 Connie was presented with the New Zealand order of Merit by ambassador Mike Moore at the New Zealand Embassy, Washington.