Dame Patsy Reddy was born in Matamata and lived her early years in Te Akau and then Minginui, where her parents, Neil and Kay Reddy, were school teachers. The family moved to Hamilton when she was six and she completed her schooling at Hillcrest Primary School, Peachgrove Intermediate and Hamilton Girls High School.
Dame Patsy went to Victoria University of Wellington where she studied for a law degree. She graduated with an LLB in 1976 and an LLM (First Class Honours) in 1979. She joined the Law Faculty as a Junior Lecturer and subsequently as a Lecturer.
In 1982 she joined the law firm Watts and Patterson (now Minter Ellison Rudd Watts), and became the first female partner in 1983, specialising in tax, corporate and film law. In 1987 she moved into the corporate sector as Group Legal Counsel and subsequently became Group Manager for Special Projects. During her 11 years in this field she was involved in numerous mergers and acquisitions, including the privatisation and subsequent flotation of Air New Zealand, and the construction, establishment and flotation of Sky City Entertainment Ltd. She was a member of the Boards of both of these companies following their listing and continued to serve on the board of Sky City Entertainment as Deputy Chair until 2008. In 1999 she and two colleagues co-founded Active Equities Limited, a private investment company.
Dame Patsy has had extensive experience in governance and consulting roles, both in the private and public sector. In addition to Air New Zealand and Sky City Entertainment she has served as a non-executive director of Telecom Corporation, Southern Petroleum and New Zealand Post. Other governance roles include Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission, Deputy Chair of New Zealand Transport Agency, Chair of Education Payroll Ltd and independent director of Payments NZ Ltd. She has also served as a member of the NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal and as a member of the Risk and Assurance Committee for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Major consulting roles have included as an Independent Reviewer (with Sir Michael Cullen) of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand, Independent Facilitator of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity, Senior Reviewer for Performance Improvement Framework Reviews of government agencies, and as a Chief Crown Negotiator of Treaty Settlements for Tauranga Moana and Te Toko Toru.
Dame Patsy has also had significant involvement in governance of creative and charitable organisations, including as Trustee of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, the Victoria University Foundation, the Victoria University Art Collection Trust, the Spark Art Trust, the Wellington Jazz Festival Trust, the Symphony Orchestra Foundation, and Sky City Community Trust. She was a founding Trustee and advisory board member for New Zealand Global Women and has chaired the Board of the New Zealand Film Archive.
In 2014 she became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to the arts and business.
In December 2021, Dame Patsy became a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the United Kingdom New Year Honours List.
Dame Patsy is married to Sir David Gascoigne and they divide their time between Wellington and the Wairarapa. Her interests include the arts in all forms - but especially film, the visual arts and opera - gardening and cooking.