Looking back over the years
Television host and radio broadcaster for 40 years, Sir Paul Holmes, died at home, last night, aged 62, after losing his latest battle with illness. Today we pay tribute to the Haumoana-born legend who said he had dreamed of a long retirement at his Poukawa home, Mana Lodge.
Photo captions –
LOOKING RELAXED: Posing for a publicity shot for the television programme The Way We Were, in 1996.
HAPPY TRIO: Sir Paul, Judy Bailey and John Hawkesby fronted Telethon in 1990.
READY TO CHAT: In his role as breakfast host on Newstalk ZB in the late 1980s.
EARLY DAYS: A young Paul Holmes shows off his 70s hairdo. PHOTO/NZ HERALD, ARCHIVE 1975
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he didn’t always agree with Sir Paul Holmes during their long professional relationship but he held him in high regard.
“He was hugely talented, creative and hard-working, and one of our best journalists.
“Sir Paul was one of a rare breed who was modest enough to know that sometimes you win arguments, and other times you lose.
“He will be sorely missed and we wish his family, friends and colleagues all the best in these trying times.”
Mark Sainsbury said there would never be anyone else in broadcasting like his “extraordinary” friend Sir Paul.
“He was just so totally unique. Everything he did he threw himself at 100 per cent. He was just brilliant.”
Through his dedication and hard work Sir Paul altered the face of radio and television.
“He just so radically changed everything.”
Sir Paul was a professional who cared passionately about people, which was reflected through his work.
Sir Paul was also a “very, very emotional” man. Who at times found criticism difficult.
“Like anything in this business, you’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but Paul would take that and that was the good thing – he knew that. It didn’t go without people criticising all the things that happened. It hurt Paul. He would accept it professionally but he never liked to upset anyone unless they were bastards.”
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick acknowledged Sir Paul’s “long and illustrious” career with the broadcaster and said he had many friends there.
“He’s been part of the TVNZ family for so long – from our family to his, we extend our deepest sympathy.
“Sir Paul redefined current affairs on New Zealand television for a generation and has been a leading light in the world of journalism in this country.
“His legacy will be remembered within TVNZ and across the industry for many years to come.”
Prime Minister John Key says Sir Paul’s death signals the end of a broadcasting era.
“Paul Holmes was a gentleman broadcaster. He conducted his interviews with intelligence and insightfulness and, while he never suffered fools, his interviews were never without kindness and empathy.
“He was a trailblazer in New Zealand journalism with a style that was all his own.
“I also counted him as a friend and I want to personally acknowledge the pain Deborah, Lady Holmes, Millie and Reuben are now feeling and offer my heartfelt condolences.
“Paul has been part of New Zealanders’ lives since the 1970s. For more than a decade he was compulsive viewing at 7pm and, up until very recently, he was still on Q&A and his radio show.
“It is hard to imagine a broadcasting spectrum without him.
“It was a privilege to be with him last month as he received his knighthood for services to broadcasting – I cannot think of anyone who deserved this more.
“Farewell Sir Paul, you will be missed.”
Labour Leader David Shearer described Sir Paul as a true professional who was hugely respected not only by his peers, but by New Zealanders across social and political spectrums.
“A pioneer of the talkback radio format, he was at the forefront of current affairs television and never shied from controversy.
“He had a fine sense of the ‘ordinary Kiwi’ along with an uncanny understanding of the issues of the day.
“What always struck me was his enthusiasm for his country. He was a passionate New Zealander who stood up for anyone willing to have a go.
“I got to know him a bit more personally in recent years. I saw him as a friend and frequently enjoyed a robust debate with him.
“Paul’s contribution to New Zealand’s media landscape was significant, and he will be deeply missed.
“My sympathy and thoughts are with his wife, Lady Deborah Holmes, his children Millie and Reuben and other family members.”
Broadcast media personality Brian Edwards said Sir Paul’s death was not unexpected, but came too soon.
“I look at someone like Paul, who obviously had potentially years and years and years to do a lot more broadcasting – his death is just too soon, I suppose, it’s just too early.”
Edwards said Sir Paul had shown tremendous courage in the face of death, citing an “admirable” recent interview with TVNZ’s Sunday programme.
“I thought that demonstrated such tremendous courage and honesty in the face of what he obviously knew was his impending death. I thought it was quite typical of the man. So it’s a hugely great loss.”
Radio Broadcasters Association chief executive Bill Francis was general manager of Newstalk ZB for 16 of Sir Paul Holmes’ 22 years at the radio station.
During that time the pair developed a close professional relationship and personal friendship, he said.
“My most enduring memories of Paul is the amount of fun we had working together because he was such a buoyant, uplifting character. He was a great person to be close to,” he said.
Bill Ralston, who was head of TVNZ news and current affairs when Sir Paul left the state broadcaster, said his death was “extremely sad”.
“Paul was such a dominant figure in both radio and television broadcasting over the last 20 years and contributed so much, not only in terms of his broadcasting, but also in the charity work he did which was recognised in that knighthood. It’s a very, very sad day.”
Asked about his favourite moments with Sir Paul, Ralston paid tribute to his sense of humour.
“His sense of humour was such that you were constantly laughing. He was an extremely funny man – he had a superb sense of irony. He would never hesitate to tell a joke against himself, but at the same time he always had a very strong self-confidence in what he did.
“He was a guy who backed himself in almost everything he did and was willing to take it on the chin. When something went wrong he’d put it right.
“His career, like anyone’s career I think in broadcasting, had its ups and downs and had its controversial moments.
“But at the end of it, at the time of his passing now, I think New Zealand as a whole really does mourn for him. Many of us grew up with him. He was such a large part of our life for two decades.”
Ralston said Sir Paul would have a lasting impact on New Zealand broadcasting.
“He took broadcasting from being quite stodgy, quite serious and more than a little boring – particularly in the area of news and current affairs – and made it interesting, humorous, vibrant, must-watch.
“He had top-rating radio and television programmes and I don’t think those programmes would have normally attracted those kinds of ratings without someone like Sir Paul Holmes’ showmanship.”
Dallas Gurney, a close friend of Sir Paul and the head of talk brands at the Radio Network, said Sir Paul was the greatest broadcaster of our time.
“He doesn’t leave a gap, he leaves a chasm, I don’t think we realised at the time just how lucky we were to have a broadcaster of his ilk on the television and on the radio.”
He remembered Sir Paul as a cheeky and funny man.
“He’d often have the newsroom in fits of laughter and I’m sure that Sir Paul’s presence will be felt around this place for many years to come.”
Everybody knew how good a broadcaster Sir Paul was, “but more than that he was a good person”.
“The thing about Paul is no matter who you are, be the most lowly reporter or the CEO of the company, he had time for you and people say the greatest gift you can give people is your time. It’s very true for Sir Paul.”