Sir Paul Holmes dies
Fri, 01 Feb 2013 9:33a.m.
By Kim Chisnall with 3 News online staff
Iconic New Zealand broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes has succumbed to his long illness, dying at the age of 62.
His family issued a statement this morning, saying “Sir Paul Holmes passed away peacefully early this morning surrounded by his family in Hawkes Bay, as he wished it to be.”
"More than just a broadcaster, Paul was a loving husband and father, as well as a generous friend. He loved people and people loved him.
"Lady Holmes, Millie, Rueben and Ken Holmes would like to thank the public for their incredible support."
Information on how the public can pay tribute to him will be announced in due course.
Sir Paul was knighted on January 16 – the investiture ceremony brought forward because of his poor health.
It was an acknowledgement that came not a moment too soon.
As he battled prostate cancer and an ailing heart the broadcaster paused to reflect on his four-decade career.
“I’d like to be remembered as someone who in my broadcasting was fair,” Sir Paul told media after the ceremony. “Fair-minded. Not convinced of someone’s guilt or innocence right from the start.”
Sir Paul's career began in radio in the 1970s. He went on to work in Australia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands before returning to New Zealand and the job that would define his career.
Sir Paul took over from 1ZB host Merv Smith and turned the Auckland station from a community radio format to Newstalk.
His television career began in 1989 with the current affairs show simply called Holmes. It was New Zealand's first personality-based 7 o’clock current affairs show - and it began with a bang, when the now infamous America’s Cup skipper Dennis Conner walked out.
That same year, Sir Paul survived a helicopter crash that killed his fellow passenger, cameraman Jo Von Dinklage.
Tackling the big stories
Sir Paul took on the story of HIV victim Eve van Grafthorst, and showed New Zealand that HIV/AIDS wasn't something to be afraid of. He also championed the success of New Zealand Paralympians, hosting a documentary on the subject.
Then there was his famous interview with Jonah Lomu. The rugby star was reduced to tears after admitting his parents didn't know about his recent marriage.
In 1996, fugitive gunman John Grant Fagan called Sir Paul on his Newstalk show, and he agreed to meet him.
Police accused Sir Paul of acting the hero, but it was indicative of the star's pulling power. If people wanted to get their point across to the public, Sir Paul was the one they talked to.
Mark Todd certainly thought so. He appeared on the Holmes show to address drug and sex allegations.
Sir Paul interviewed everyone and anyone, a punishing work schedule that was made harder in 1999 when the broadcaster revealed he was battling prostate cancer.
The following year he began a short-lived music career, releasing an album of covers.
Not shy of controversy
In 2003 he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, but later that year the loyalty of his audience was tested when he called then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan a “cheeky darky”.
Mitsubishi pulled their sponsorship of the Holmes show and Sir Paul was forced to apologise
“Never mind that the comments were an attempt to be satire, to be tongue in cheek,” he said. “In the making of them this was not clear. I accept this. I was trying to shock, to provoke. I was tired.”
In 2004 the broadcaster crashed his vintage Boaring Stearman biplane - not once, but twice. Both times he walked away uninjured.
That same year he also walked away from TVNZ, after 15 years on air.
He was TVNZ's highest paid employee at the time on a salary of more than $700,000. Sir Paul said he left with no sour grapes, just affection.
But he wasn’t off the screen for long, starting a new show on rival network Prime the following year.
“I'm a man who feels very much in the summer of his career,” he said at the time.
But by winter - just six months later - the show was axed.
Always the entertainer, he wasn't afraid to try new things. In 2007 Sir Paul was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
A family man, but a workaholic
In 2008 his adopted daughter Millie was convicted on drug charges and Sir Paul pleaded with the judge for leniency.
He went on to be an outspoken advocate against methamphetamine. At his knighthood, his family loyalty was acknowledged.
“The Governor-General told me that one of my redeeming features was the way in which I stuck up for my daughter when she got into trouble, and I had no trouble doing that because she's family and when a kid gets into trouble you've got to help them,” he said.
In 2008 after 23 years behind the microphone, Sir Paul announced he was leaving his Newstalk ZB breakfast show, taking on the Saturday morning show instead.
The following year he returned to television, hosting the political talk show Q+A.
Last year he underwent open heart surgery and was put in an induced coma to recover. But even that didn't hold back the self-confessed workaholic for long - by November he was back on Q+A asking the hard questions.
When summing up his career at his investiture, Sir Paul said he did have some regrets.
“I made mistakes,” he admitted. “I went too far. I thought I could do something and it wasn't accepted, but on the whole for a fella who lived on his wits and lived life, I think I did pretty well.”
An understatement from a man who will be remembered as a New Zealand broadcasting legend.
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2/02/2013 2:13:53 a.m.
Shon MQuade wrote:
To the family and Friends of Sir Paul Holmes
He wasor David against the Goliaths of the world, brash, honest,and a champion for the every people.
No more suffering Sir Paul,for you or your family and we shall help them grieve,and honour your memoryr little Angel Eve, so you will never be alone.
Blessed be and love to your family xxxx
Have a safe Journey,united with you
1/02/2013 6:28:10 p.m.
Dianne Maxwell wrote:
Sir Paul Holmes,what a wonderful man.No more pain Paul, I along with so many New Zealanders will miss you, your broadcasting to the Nation was always done with passion.
The Golden Gates have opened to receive one of New Zealands Geatests R.I.P.
1/02/2013 6:10:44 p.m.
sharon sciascia wrote:
Dear Sir Paul Holmes you were a Brilliant man an i hope you have a safe Journey home to Heaven... Very sad to hear of your passing but you lived a good life.. Blessings an Thoughts go out to the Family of Mr Holmes, Kia Kaha to you all !!!! God Bless
1/02/2013 2:43:18 p.m.
Tom and henny Van Meurs wrote:
We are both very saddened by the death of Sir Paul Holmes. He was a great and courageous interviewer, never afraid to say what was on his mind. During the years he was on national TV we used to look forward to his program 'Holmes'. We will remember him.
1/02/2013 1:15:43 p.m.
Ruth Sullivan wrote:
Sir Paul Holmes I remember the bright red glasses and the cheeky impish smile! He will forever remain a hard working, passionate legend. Rest easy now you have done your time - bet he is happy to be with his Mum.
1/02/2013 1:15:17 p.m.
Jimbo Jones wrote:
New Zealand has not only lost an iconic broadcaster but also a national treasure...RIP Sir paul, you will be sadly missed yet never forgotten.
1/02/2013 12:38:27 p.m.
Nice comments. Especially Nigels: "Struck by the spontaneity, the genuineness, of Sir Paul Holmes".
1/02/2013 12:35:28 p.m.
Sir Paul Holmes. He said what he meant and meant what he said. Miss your work.
1/02/2013 12:21:10 p.m.
A person who had courage and cared about people. Your one of the kind Sir Paul as I remember you from a very young age. You will be sadly missed but never forgotten. Definitely a kiwi legend. Condolences to Sir Paul's family. A person with a beautiful heart. God bless. Rest in peace.
1/02/2013 12:17:12 p.m.
R.I.P Sir Paul Holmes...<3
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