New Zealand Law Society - Unique legal role for the girl who played Joseph

Unique legal role for the girl who played Joseph

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Patricia Windle
Patricia Windle

Despite the initial misgivings of her distinguished legal granddad, singer, dancer, actress and now learner driver Patricia Windle scored a leading role wrestling good and bad taste on air.

Patricia is legal manager at the Broadcasting Standards Authority – effectively a statutory appeal body - in a legal team whose primary job is determining complaints and developing the code of broadcasting standards.

She won the Buddle Findlay Public Sector In-house Lawyer of the Year Award at the 2018 ILANZ Conference in May, taking away a $5,000 scholarship package.

Patricia Windle
Entry to law
Graduated BA (Honours) in Film and Media Studies and LLB from Otago University in 2008. Admitted in 2010.
Legal manager at the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Speciality area
Media law, broadcasting complaints, oversight of broadcasting standards system.

Patricia, who has been with the BSA 10 years, says in recent years news and current affairs have attracted the highest proportion of complaints, with the core journalistic principles of accuracy, fairness and balance being raised the most.

Of the compaints the BSA makes decisions on about 15% are upheld. "The system is working pretty well."

Naked Attraction attracted quite a number of complaints from people concerned about the high level of nudity and sexual content. The BSA upheld one aspect of the complaint - that the warning about nudity needed to be made stronger.

"It comes back to freedom of expression. The authority very much sees itself as a champion for that to a reasonable extent provided it doesn’t cross the line into causing harm to anybody. It’s all about context as well.”

Her grandfather is 94-year-old retired lawyer Tim Blennerhassett – “a stalwart of the Wellington legal fraternity” – who, “when I decided I was going to Otago to study law I remember him doing his very best to dissuade me”.

“I can’t remember the reasons why. If it was going to Otago or taking on law or both. But he came down to Dunedin with the whole family for my graduation and he now refers to me affectionately as ‘my solicitor’.”

An uncle is a lawyer in Brisbane.

Her mother is a project management accountant for Massey University and her retired father was an electrician most of his working life.

Younger brother Anthony is a “passionate hospitality worker, travelling the world working in fine dining establishments”.

Patricia’s long-time partner is tradie builder Paul, a keen surfer and paddle boarder.

Ballet was her life as a child

“Growing up I was always very much into the arts, rather than sport. My great aunt on my mother’s side was my ballet teacher. I did ballet from three to 17, until I went to Otago University.

“I loved being on the stage. Ballet was my life growing up. I did a lot of singing and acting in that time.

“Apart from being on stage with ballet my ‘breakthrough’ was about the age of 12 at St Teresa’s Primary School in Karori, where I was selected in Form 2 to be Joseph in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

“I distinctly remember the teachers saying to me that none of the boys could sing, so I was the female Joseph. I remember I was struck down by some horrible illness on the day. It was all very dramatic, they had been rehearsing my understudy, but somehow I managed to show up and the show must go on.

“I remember very small children coming up and trying to touch me - a bizarre experience – and my Mum saying to me ‘you’ve got fans, darling’.

Patricia Windle
Patricia Windle

“At high school we did Macbeth and I was one of the Witches of Cawdor.

At high school she also featured in The Matchgirls, a musical about the London matchgirls’ strike of 1888.

“When I came back from Otago I always had a hankering to try ballroom dancing and I have been doing competitive ballroom and Latin dancing for nine years – and I’m very much enjoying Dancing with the Stars.”

Patricia’s dance partner is Tom, an IT worker with the New Zealand Police. They compete once a month and at a recent competition in Upper Hutt came out with four first placings, five seconds and some thirds.

“I love watching sport with Paul, we are into rugby and cricket and I have always been a cricket fan, so I have been supporting Chris Harris on Dancing with the Stars.

“One of my dresses is an enormous orange ballroom dress known as Big Orange, which I debuted to the attendees at the recent ILANZ conference. Big Orange has become something of an institution. I take a gamble on buying dresses on the internet and hope they turn up as they look.”

Freezing in the Catlins

“I haven’t travelled much and missed the classic OE because I’ve been at the BSA 10 years. We try to do a decent trip every year or couple of years. Paul and I went to Vietnam and Cambodia last year - Paul has relatives living in Phnom Penh. It was fantastic.

“I wish I had seen more of NZ. I’ve seen a fair amount of South Island from living in Dunedin, and Paul’s parents live in Wanaka – we love it there.

“We had an amazing holiday at Christmas at Riverton in Southland, which I had never heard of. I was worried because the previous year we went to the Catlins and it was freezing – we had a fire on every day in middle of summer.

“We spend a lot of time at Riversdale beach on the Wairarapa coast. I hash my way round the golf course. Paul’s a big surfer and into stand-up paddle boarding. I quite like the idea of paddle boarding.

“Mum’s side of the family are all musical and I was blessed to go out with family who were musical. I played the piano in a past life and these days it usually consists of bashing out some Christmas carols with my Mum, but I would like to take it up again.

“Musically I’ve been open to everything. Paul is into old soul, R&B. I’m not much good with names of singers or songs, I just listen and enjoy. Most recently we went to see the Fleet Foxes, an American indie-folk group, and they are good.

“Away from work I read occasionally but I am an avid watcher.. I love TV and films. And a massive fan British murder mysteries - dark twisty stuff.

“I enjoyed Tin Star, the British-Canadian crime drama starring Tim Roth – that’s dark and twisty. And I’m focused on The Handmaid’s Tale, which can be a bit grim.

“I don’t see as many films as I would like. Growing up we would go to films every week. I look forward to film festivals.

“My attraction to law was a bit of a combination. My desire was to study film and media plus something else.

“I always enjoyed writing, analytical thinking, getting stuck into things and pulling out issues but probably hadn’t thought much about law prior to doing it.

“Film and media is very much theory-based at Otago. It was a way for me to continue watching films and learning about the industry - out of interest more than anything else.

“I would like to keep working in that area. I have no favourite directors, but some of the stuff coming out of New Zealand is amazing. The year that What We Do In The Shadows, The Dark Horse and some others came out was an amazing year for New Zealand film.”

A car waiting to be driven

“I’ve just recently bought a new car, a little white Hyundai Getz, but I am ashamed to say I have never learned to drive. I always got the bus in Wellington, and in Dunedin I walked everywhere, so I have never driven.

“I have had a learners licence since high school and bought my car to learn in. I haven’t driven her yet. Paul will be giving me lessons, so hopefully our relationship stands the test.

“We live in a unit in Lyall Bay (Wellington) so we have no pets.

“We are very much family people - I’m a big family person – and if I could have all my family around that would be my kind of ideal dinner.

“I do a bit of cooking at home - have a nice new kitchen – and I enjoy cooking. I’m not sure how good I am at it but Paul eats it.

“I would make a nice curry. We are big craft beer fans. Paul worked on the new Parrotdog brewery at Lyall Bay and we are big fans of Parrotdog. I am also well known for being partial to bubbly.

“My dream job would be on the stage, something creative. It’s on my bucket list to be in a musical once in my life. Something like Cats would be really fun.

“I remember the first time I went to Cats, I was 11, and it was not my favourite. Phantom of the Opera my favourite.

“But if I had the voice for Phantom of the Opera I think I would bawl my eyes out from start to finish.”

Over a long career in journalism Jock Anderson has spent many hours in courtrooms and talking to members of the legal profession. He can be contacted at

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