Sir Paul, the rebel with a title

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 16:52 16/01/2013
Paul Holmes
Governor-general Jerry Mateparae knighting broadcaster Paul Holmes.
Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes began his broadcasting career in the 1970s.
Paul Holmes
NEW KNIGHT: Sir Paul Holmes

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Just call me Sir - Paul Holmes said after he was knighted at his Hawke's Bay home today.

The broadcaster was unashamedly proud of his new title after receiving his knighthood to a standing ovation from more than 100 people who gathered at his Poukawa, Hawke's Bay, home.

"It's nice to be Sir and Lady. I want everyone to call me Sir, I'm unashamed - as you would expect."

Holding on to his wife, Lady Deborah's, arm for support, he walked from their home to a marquee set up in their extensive backyard.

Holmes waved to his friends in the crowd and, pausing to hold on to the marquee, he showed his wicked sense of humour by swinging a leg around a pole. He then was helped on to the investiture stall by his family.

Governor-general Jerry Mateparae dubbed him with the sword before having a quiet word to him. Later Holmes said the governor-general told him one of his redeeming features was how he stuck up for his daughter when she got into trouble over drugs.

"A kid gets into trouble you've got to help them," he said.

Holmes said the ceremony meant a lot to him and his family and that his late parents would have been "over the moon".

"My mother would be immensely proud - she'd be giving me advice right up until the last minute."

He emphasised the love and support he'd received from his wife during his turbulent career and declining health.

"My wife and I've have grown closer and I want to thank you baby," he said reaching for her hand.

Holmes has been battling heart problems and the return of prostate cancer which he said was more aggressive than before.

"It's not good. There's a time limitation now - the old cancer found me out and is starting to do some funny things."

Holmes admitted he had some regrets from his long career. He earned notoriety by getting America's Cup sailor Dennis Conner to storm out of an interview, calling former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan a ''cheeky darkie'', and what he admits was an "obnoxious and unpleasant attack" on Tariana Turia.

"I made mistakes. I went too far, I thought I could do something and it was not accepted. But on the whole for a fellow who lived on his wits and lived live I think I did pretty well."

During the ceremony Mateparae paid tribute to Holmes' "considerable" legacy in New Zealand broadcasting.

"You have achieved excellence in broadcasting and helped in your community, and you have done those things in your own individual way," Mateparae said. 

"You once described yourself as a life-long rebel against those who were frightened of openess, colour and expressions of passion and individuality. Throughout your long and varied career ... you have celebrated the colourful, the passionate and the expressive side of our national psyche.

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"You have asked hard questions of politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities. And you have told the stories of everyday New Zealanders as they celebrated good times, and grieved in the sad times. As you said at the close of your nightly programme for 15 years: 'Those were our people today, that's Holmes tonight'."

Fellow broadcaster Sean Plunket described Holmes' career as ''the most remarkable broadcasting career of his time''.

In a recent interview, Holmes admitted it was ''unrelenting'' juggling morning radio programmes with his television commitments. On top of that, he found time to write three books. He lists his latest book on the Mt Erebus crash as one of his proudest achievements.

Holmes' honour also commends his lesser-known work in the community.

He is patron of Paralympics New Zealand, on the board of Auckland's Westpac rescue helicopter charity and a fundraiser and spokesman for many causes, particularly the Stellar Trust, active in the fight against methamphetamine use.

Investiture ceremonies for other recipients of New Year's honours will be held in Auckland and Wellington in May.

Aucklanders Justice Judith Potter and businesswoman Wendy Pye were appointed Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Other knighthoods were awarded to Auckland philanthropist Owen Glenn, West Auckland local body politician Bob Harvey, Justice Mark O'Regan of Wellington, newspaper owner Julian Smith of Dunedin, Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon and equestrian great Mark Todd.

- Stuff

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