Before she was 20, Dorothy Moses (née Katz) had moved around from New Zealand to the United States and back to New Zealand again. It was therefore not surprising having seen and met many different people of different nationalities and ethnicities that a curiosity streak developed within her that led to becoming one of New Zealand’s first women freelance journalists.
Born in Auckland in 1912 as the third child and only daughter of Rabbi Solomon and Bina Katz, the red haired Dorothy grew up in happy surrounds around Jewish children her or near her age. An early photograph shows her and her younger brother Alfred at a party with some of the children of Claude and Julie Moses, who were friends of the Katz’s. Among the Moses children is the oldest child Sid, who was to marry Dorothy when she returned back to New Zealand.
When Rabbi Katz decided to continue his studies at the New York based Jewish Theological Seminary of America and to be closer to his parents who were now living there, the family packed up and moved to the United States in 1920. His later postings to Montgomery and Birmingham in Alabama caused Dorothy to gain a southern accent, before it was later rectified when the family moved back to New York and a teacher at George Washington High School got her to recite ‘brown cow’ endless times to get rid of the drawl. It was in Birmingham however that Dorothy first began an interest in writing, following encouragement from an English teacher called Miss Tankesley.
In 1931 Rabbi Katz went back to New Zealand to check out the communities he had left more than a decade earlier and after writing to his family to also make the trip, Dorothy along with her mother and youngest brother Alfred returned the following year. Dorothy was reunited with Sid Moses, who had recently moved down to Wellington, to open and manage a Maple Furnishing Store.
In 1935, Rabbi Katz officiated at his daughter’s wedding to Sid Moses in the Terrace Synagogue and within the space of six years, a daughter Miria and a son Roger, were born.
The Second World War was an extremely tough time for Dorothy for in addition to having her husband overseas with the New Zealand 35th Battalion and having to raise two young children, she lost both her parents within the space of six weeks in late 1943 and early 1944. By this stage also Alfred Katz had returned to the United States, having gained a psychology Masters’ degree at Victoria University, before going on to fashion a brilliant academic career which was to see him finish as an Emeritus Professor at the UCLA School of Public Health and the School of Public Policy and Social research.
At the end of the war and as a means to have some much needed personal time out to revisit her brothers, Dorothy returned to the United States in 1946 for six months. It was during the outward ship voyage (which was full of New Zealand war brides) she discovered that the Australian nurse, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, was on board. Knowing the significance around how the sister’s successful, but controversial treatment had been around polio, Dorothy honed in on her untrained journalism instincts by interviewing the Australian and duly writing up an article on it. The result was that it was published coincidentally at the same time the Hollywood film Sister Kenny was released. In doing so it gave Dorothy a huge boost into the beginnings of her freelance journalism career.
In 1949 Dorothy returned to the United States, but this time alongside Sid and with an ambition. Never one to shy away from opportunities and to show old fashioned ‘chutzpah’, she interviewed many show business celebrities, including Larry Adler, Humphrey Bogart, Joseph Cotton, Louis Hayward and Jane Russell. Back in New Zealand readers of the Freelance and Femina magazines read of these encounters.
In 1953-54, Femina assigned Dorothy to cover Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural tour of New Zealand. In doing so it began Dorothy’s niche as a Royal Tour reporter that was to stretch nearly 40 years. She also began writing for the New Zealand Women’s Weekly that continued her growing name as a highly regarded celebrity reporter. Among the many she interviewed over the years were the Beatles, Richard Burton, Lord Nuffield, Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Kiri Te Kanawa, Cesar Romero, Jack Lord, John Rowles and Indira Ghandi.
Besides print journalism, Dorothy also ran a 5 to 10 minute weekly show on the Wellington radio station 2ZB, called Where in the World, based on her ever growing overseas travel experiences. Outside journalism Dorothy saw both of her children get married, resulting in her becoming a grandmother or ‘Tutu’ to her five grandchildren. She also became involved in various committees, was a Life Member of the New Zealand American Association and maintained lifelong contact with ex serving members of the 2nd Marine Division, who had been in this country during the war.
In 1995 Sid and Dorothy celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary, before her health began to take a downward spiral which eventually saw her pass away in her Karori home on March the 31st 1997, aged 84. Sid died three years later on the 17th of October 2000, aged 93. The legacy of her work as a person who captured thoughts beautifully down on paper, was instrumental towards several of her grandchildren also taking up writing, with one becoming a fulltime and later freelance journalist.