The Oamaru Mail is delighted to introduce readers to its newest reporter, Ashley Smyth. She will be familiar to many of you from her former years with the paper, and also from the many connections she has made as a resident of Oamaru and Weston. Ashley grew up in Alexandra, studied at the University of Otago, worked in Oamaru, travelled overseas, and returned to settle here.
Q How long has it been since you worked at the Oamaru Mail?
Whatever I say is going to make me sound old. I think I left about 17 years ago.
Q What have you been doing in the intervening years?
Since returning from overseas, I’ve managed to fill in most of my time having and raising children. I have three boys, Leo (10), Reid (7) and Jude (nearly 5). I’m just easing myself back into the (paid) working world again.
Q What’s it like to be back?
It’s a bit weird. I can barely remember how a computer works properly. But there are still a few familiar faces, and it’ll hopefully come flooding back to me before I manage to annoy all of my work colleagues with inane questions.
Q How has journalism changed since you were last in the industry?
It’s all so instantaneous these days. Anything that happens in the world, you expect to be able to read about it online pretty quickly. So I guess the challenge for print newspapers is to stay relevant, and adapt to offer the readers something different. But there will definitely always be something about the morning or evening ritual of sitting down with a cuppa and the paper, and soaking in all the little extras it has to offer that the internet never will.
Q How do you view the Mail‘s role in the community?
Pre-Covid-19, Oamaru, and the Waitaki District as a whole, had such a buzz surrounding it, and that was well reflected in the paper and its coverage. Hopefully, that positivity will remain, or at least return quickly, and all the fantastic businesses on offer won’t suffer too much in the recovery. The Oamaru Mail will now have a huge role to play in helping those businesses back on to their feet and reminding the locals just how lucky we are to live here!
Q What are you most looking forward to in your role as a reporter?
Being a stay-at-home mum for so long, I’ve felt slightly removed from all the things happening in the district, outside of school and kindy. So I’m looking forward to being in the know a wee bit more again. It’s nice to engage the brain again, and dust off the typing skills. And of course it’s the people, the people, the people.
Q What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of running around after three boys, and catching up with friends, my other passion is yoga, which I discovered after my youngest son was born. I’d started getting back into fitness and my body was hating me, so I gave it a try. Yoga has been such a tonic for my physical body … and an added bonus also my mental health. I am now halfway through my 200-hour yoga teacher training, and will hopefully be able to put that qualification to use come the start of July, so watch this space.