Janet McIntyre gained early affection for New Zealand as a teenager, thanks to a Lions Club exchange to Fairlie in the Mackenzie Country. Coats and woolly hats proved a novelty for the high schooler from Brisbane. After studying journalism as part of a Bachelor of Arts degree at Queensland University, she pestered Channel 9 News in Brisbane for months, and won a cadetship. McIntyre learned the TV reporting ropes in the smoky newsroom, to a score of typewriters and faxes: "reams of my copy was torn up before I got a handle on newswriting!"
McIntyre crossed the ditch to New Zealand in 1989 for the launch of the new third channel, TV3. She can be seen reporting on the channel's launch in the closing minutes of TV3's first prime time bulletin, on 27 November 1989. Over the next decade she worked across news shows from 3 News to Nightline, including time as a presenter and correspondent for 60 Minutes (then screening on TV3) and its successor 20/20.
What was originally planned as a "two year hitch" has turned into more than two decades as a leading reporter for Kiwi current affairs television, where she has amassed numerous nominations and been voted TV Journalist of the Year.
In 1994 McIntyre shifted networks to TVNZ to work on Frontline, and the same year began an extended run on 60 Minutes. Memorable 60 Minutes reports included a 1995 Qantas Media Award winner on the abuse of boys in Otara, under the foster care of Ioanna Fuimaono; a look at the monastic lives of nuns in Mt Albert's Carmelite monastery; and a New Zealand TV scoop in 2000: an interview with Madonna.
In 2002 TVNZ relinquished the 60 Minutes franchise, to make their own hour-long show focusing on local current affairs. McIntyre won the staff contest to name the new programme, and Sunday was born. In the high profile evening slot, she has covered subjects ranging from kākāpō recovery, to the sexually upfront dating habits of Kiwi women, to preservation work on Shackleton’s hut in Antarctica. She’s quizzed psychiatric patient Ashley Peacock about being locked up for long periods and Rachel Hunter on beauty secrets, and reported from Rwanda to the Solomon Islands. McIntyre rates a 2004 report on the Thailand tsunami as one of her most daunting assignments: she broadcast from a makeshift morgue in which New Zealanders were working.
In 2005 she filed Sunday reports from the London Tube bombings. With cameraman Peter Day and editor Dan Best, she was nominated for Best Current Affairs Team at that year’s Qantas Media Awards. The same year she was named TV Journalist of the Year and nominated as Best Current Affairs Reporter for 'Battle of the Berrymans', a story on the collapse of an army-built bridge.
Two years later McIntyre and producer Chris Cooke were the first media to be invited into the controversial and secretive West Coast Community of Gloriavale (TV3 reporter Melanie Reid had filed a story from Gloriavale in the 90s, while posing as an agricultural student). Describing her own Gloriavale visit to The Listener’s Sarah Barnett, McIntyre called it "a big shock to the system to walk into it; it was like dropping in on another planet ... it wasn’t scary, but it was disconcerting. And you didn’t really feel welcome. We felt the eyes of suspicion on us totally."
In 2009 McIntyre fronted a Sunday story on a Whanganui boating tragedy. At the following year’s awards she and Joanne Mitchell shared a Qantas Award for Best Current Affairs Reporting, thanks to their interview with Fijian dictator Frank Bainimarama; Bainmarama notoriously told the NZ government to "butt out" of Fijian affairs.
In the wake of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, she did a Sunday story about a young man with Asperger's who was jailed and accused of looting light bulbs by police. It received wide plaudits and another award nomination. Media commentator Russell Brown expressed gratitude to McIntyre and the Sunday team. Alongside his anger about the case, Brown was "thrilled to see a young Asperger man speak at such length on prime-time television, to be given such an opportunity to be understood and recognised for the person he is".
In 2012 McIntyre received a brace of award nominations. One was for a rare TV interview with a juror following the re-trail of David Bain, which proved "tough to get to air". The anonymous juror gave this take on the verdict: "There’s been a lot of speculation that it means that he was found innocent. And I was a juror and I never found David Bain innocent." That same year McIntyre, alongside producer Carolyne Meng-Yee, grabbed further headlines thanks to an interview with David Tamihere.
In 2013 McIntyre had the "great privilege" of interviewing ailing broadcaster Paul Holmes. The legend of local TV broadcasting looked back over his career and even talked about his own passing: "Well, I’m staring it in the face now," he said. "I think there’s a sense that things have gone beyond possibility. Yeah, I get a bit scared."
McIntyre's interviewee roster represents a line-up of controversial and colourful figures, including Satanic hoax policeman Brent Garner, convicted murderer Mark Lundy and fake psychiatrist Linda Astor. After watching her 2013 interview with two opera-singing Samoan brothers, Universal Music NZ Chairman Adam Holt offered Sol3 Mio a record deal. In 2015 McIntyre sat down with euthanasia campaigner Lecretia Seales, who, with just three weeks to live, explained why she wanted the right to choose death: "I do not want you to have a mad wife to look after," she said, alongside her husband.
McIntyre was the long-term partner of veteran New Zealand TV cameraman Derek McKendry, who died suddenly in 1999. She remarried in 2005: to another TV veteran, late current affairs producer Keith Slater.
'Janet McIntyre'. Sunday website. Loaded 21 January 2004. Accessed 17 January 2016
Sarah Barnett, ‘Janet McIntyre - Journalist’ (Interview) - The Listener, 10 March 2007
Russell Brown, ‘Angry and thrilled about Arie’ (Review of Sunday). Public Address website. Loaded 11 July 2011. Accessed 17 January 2016
Donna Fleming, Moses Mackay, Amitai Pati and Pene Pati, Sol3 Mio - Our Story (Auckland: Penguin Books, 2014)