Life story

Presenter Chisholm’s life story is a confrontational read

Matt Chisholm is familiar with the Kiwi vernacular. It helped the journalist and TV presenter connect with audiences and subjects from inner city Kiwi to New Zealand’s biggest cities. This week the Central Otago reporter launched his autobiography Impostor – it traces a journey that was hard earned and hard earned.

The title of Matt Chisholm’s book sums up a sentiment that plagued him for most of his 44 years.

As he says, this feeling is lingering – like a dull ache.

“I always felt like an impostor, an impostor.”

He followed him from his childhood in Milton, at Waitaki Boys’ High School in Oamaru, until his time outside Otago, where a combination of circumstances propelled him and that feeling. on the national scene.

“I felt like I was an impostor in college. I went to Lincoln but we never really owned a farm, I went to Waitaki Boys boarding school for a year but my parents lived in town. , I felt like an impostor leading the First XV team in school, I felt like an impostor in the newsroom. in farming days, I always felt like an impostor, an impostor. “

This “crack” brought the father of two boys and another child – a girl – due next month, a full circle back to Otago and a life on earth.

Chisholm opted for this at the height of his professional powers, but personally it came at a cost.

He had appeared on various television news shows Close Up, Seven Sharp, Fair Go and Sunday. He also showcased his talents as a presenter on Survivor New Zealand and Celebrity Treasure Island.

Although he left TVNZ in 2018, he still occupies the latter role with work on Sundays and the long-standing national calendar.

This is a significant reduction and it started two years ago, when Chisholm, his wife Ellen (37) and their two boys, Bede (4) and Finn (3), gave up city life for Omakau, with their views firmly set on the development of a block of land near Chatto Creek.

The catalyst for this lifestyle change is laid bare in her autobiography and it’s a confronting read.

On television, Chisholm’s mastery of Kiwi slang makes him sound like an ordinary man – a good guy – or to co-opt his own terminology a “southerner”, but while he is developing his career in front of the camera. , in private, he wrestled with demons.

“When I was taking alcohol and drugs I would pass out and often had no memory of what had happened or what I had said or done. There was fear and fear. the anxiety of going out and being out of control. On Monday I would make him go to work and say, “I don’t belong to this place, what the hell am I doing here? Drinking gave me confidence and it took me away. “

Supporting his story lightly, he says taking care of his older brother Nick, who was seriously injured while playing rugby 21 years ago, has been essential in shaping who he is.

Nick, his recovery and their relationship have been the subject of many stories.

“His brain was sharp but it was trapped in an unresponsive body. I was really proud to give Nick a voice. It was one of my biggest accomplishments, being there for Nick and encouraging him to. live his life. I will die someday. and look back and think it was the right decision to put someone else before me. “

Chisholm lived with Nick for almost two years and needed a break.

This break was to be taken in Korea with two of his college friends. They taught English by day and boarded alcohol benders at night.

They invariably left Chisholm with power outages he barely remembered the day before.

Although he’s been sober for over a decade, he believes he started down this path very early on.

Chisholm, the youngest of four brothers, grew up in Milton, Alan his father was a stockbroker and his mother, Joss, was a hairdresser.

“Mum was lovely and would do anything for us, dad supported us financially but our family was far from perfect, and although we tried to portray everything pink, it was not.”

Her parents separated and the family moved to Oamaru.

“My parents’ divorce had a huge impact on me. I didn’t have a father figure in my life during those important teenage years. I did what I wanted and it wasn’t always the best. for me.”

Chisholm started drinking at 13 and adored the older boys who sneaked him into bars and rugby clubs.

“I wasn’t old enough to shave yet but I was really good at drinking beer and talking… A lot of us did our best to keep the macho culture our fathers loved.”

The objectification of women has become second nature.

“It makes me cringe, I was one of the worst offenders.”

From high school, Chisholm enrolled in Lincoln University, and life on campus revolved around rugby, beer, and women.

He hated himself for being a “piss head”, but he treated himself with depression, hid it from his friends and didn’t realize that his drug of choice was making it worse.

“My friends would have said ‘God damn it, stop pissing and take some medicine.’ It took a long time for me to realize that I could be a “southerner” and be vulnerable. “

In 2006, Chisholm returned from Korea and his OE – a shell – broke and shattered.

For years, the 30-year-old quietly aspired to be a television journalist and was accepted into a journalism course at Massey University.

A stint in the press followed, writing for the Upper Hutt Leader, the Dominion Post and later the Christchurch Star, to be close to Nick.

The transition to broadcasting was not easy and after a brief stint at Radio New Zealand in Christchurch, he wanted to give up journalism altogether.

Then Chisholm paused.

The 20/20 newscast had filmed a story about Chisholm and Nick that touched audiences.

It also resonated with Mike Valintine, the executive producer. Valintine offered him work experience and soon he got a full time job at Close Up.

His inexperience was pointed out and undermined by some staff – it was a role reversal to be the recipient rather than hand it out, like he did in high school.

“Some members of the team resented me, they thought I had been rushed and that I had not deserved the opportunity given to me.”

Life in television journalism has been punctuated by incidents of bullying and overly competitive behavior and on a few occasions he’s pushed the boundaries a bit too far, he says.

His dream of presenting would not come true until later.

At Seven Sharp, he introduced co-host Hilary Barry to high praise.

It was a once in a lifetime event, the following week Chisholm was told he would never show up again.

“I’ve always said I never wanted to be a presenter but secretly everyone wants to be wanted. When we say ‘you won’t be presenting’ they don’t say we don’t want your work, they say that we don’t want you. “

Over time, Chisholm has learned to care less and be more grateful for what he has.

The book is crude, but ultimately if it helps people, it is happy.

Does he still feel like an impostor?

He thinks he always will and he’s comfortable with it.

The Book of Chisholm Impostor is out now.

– Additional reports Jared Morgan


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