John Hudson’s career has been distinguished by a knack for breaking big stories, sometimes exposing criminals in the process. In 1990 on Holmes, he first broke the Cooperite scandal about a Christian commune living on the West Coast, now commonly known as Gloriavale, which led to the leader, named Hopeful Christian, being imprisoned for sex offences. In 2011, working with producer Chris Cooke, Hudson conducted an investigation on Christchurch housewife Helen Milner, whose husband had apparently committed suicide. Milner was later convicted of his murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Hudson's closest brush with the law came in 1985. While in Paris investigating the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior for TVNZ news, he was arrested by French police. Later released without charge, Hudson would go on to find and interview members of the French Secret Service team that sank the boat. In 2015, he and Sunday producer Chris Cooke tracked down and interviewed Colonel Jean Luc Kister, the diver who placed the bombs on the boat. The story was reported around the world, including by the BBC, The Guardian, and Time.
Hudson's career as a journalist began back in 1975; he started as cadet at The NZ Herald, while studying at Auckland University. After a brief stint at Radio Hauraki he headed abroad on what was supposed to be an OE. Along the way he did some freelance reporting in London (including for BBC Radio), covering topics from Split Enz playing live at the Hammersmith Odeon, to the Iran-Iraq war and the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. As he put it: “Like most young Kiwis who find themselves in London I worked hard, played hard and eventually got fed up with the rotten climate.”
Returning to New Zealand in 1981, Hudson worked again at Hauraki, where he reported on the riots from outside Eden Park during the fourth test match of the Springbok tour. After time at 89FM, he landed a job with TVNZ in 1984. He has been a reporter at the network ever since, beginning with regional show Top Half, and has filed stories for Eyewitness, Holmes, Frontline, 60 Minutes, Assignment, and Sunday.
There have been further overseas assignments. Hudson worked as a freelance reporter in London briefly in 1985; later a 1991 story for Frontline saw him travelling to Bangladesh, documenting the efforts of Tauranga man Ken Peat to help survivors of a cyclone that killed an estimated 140,000 people.
Later Hudson conducted a Sunday investigation into milk powder contaminated in China, which had originally come from New Zealand. It alleged that more people had been killed by the powder — containing the toxin melamine — than had previously been admitted by the Chinese government. Nominated for Investigation of the Year, the story won the 2009 Qantas Television Award for Best Current Affairs Reporting on a Weekly Programme or One-Off Special, which he shared with producer Stephen Butler, cameraman Leander Scott-Donelan, and researcher Portia Mao. Hudson previously won a Qantas Media Award in 1997 for an investigation into odometer fraud on imported Japanese cars.
As of December 2017, Hudson continues to report for Sunday.
Profile written by Simon Smith
Published on 21 December 2017
'John Hudson' TVNZ website Loaded 21 January 2004. Accessed 21 December 2017