Geoff Robinson runs out of words to say
After almost four decades at Radio New Zealand, Morning Report presenter Geoff Robinson has turned off the microphone.
On his final show this morning, Robinson recapped his career highlights and said an emotional farewell as he moved into retirement.
Lauded as one of nation's best-known voices, Robinson joined the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in Dunedin in 1970 after emigrating from Britain.
He joined the Morning Report team at RNZ in 1975 when the programme started, and, apart from three years reading commercial news, has been there ever since.
Veteran radio reviewer Clark Isaacs on the show today described Robinson as a consistent performer who has been "affable [and] even-handed" throughout his career.
At 9am, Robinson thanked his family, co-workers, and listeners, said "goodbye", and removed his headphones for the last time.
Emerging from the studio, he was taken aback by the crowd of colleagues that had gathered in the RNZ newsroom.
People clapped, cheered, and sang. Some cried.
Robinson appeared shocked.
"Crikey, people," he said.
There were signs of emotion in the corners of his eyes.
Then, "Enough, enough!"
"It's been really great, and I've run out of words to say.
"Thank you all for turning up. I really am speechless."
Paying tribute to Robinson, RNZ head of news Don Rood said: "You have made Morning Report what it is."
Of the many major international news events the programme has covered, Robinson said the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States were some of the most important.
"You do get caught up in the excitement of coverage like that ... but at the same time you started to realise what it meant. You do come down very hard."
Closer to home, he also reported on many of the major local news stories of the past 40 years, including the crash of Air New Zealand flight 901 into Mt Erebus in Antarctica in 1979, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, the Aramoana shootings in 1990, and the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.
Previous co-host Kim Hill described Robinson's departure from broadcasting as "a historic occasion".
"You were always there, Geoff. The calm centre of the universe."
Hundreds of emails rolled in during the show, thanking Robinson for hours of enlightened professionalism.
In a post-show interview, he said he was lucky to have worked for RNZ.
"I feel I'm ready to retire," he said.
"I want to go. But I know there's going to be a big gap in my life tomorrow morning.
"I'll miss being on top of the news. I'll miss the relationship you form with interviewees. But I won't miss getting up at 3.30am!"
He seemed genuinely surprised at the outpouring of admiration from other journalists and the public.
"What we do is more important than who we are. I don't want to let it get to my head.
"I've been doing this for 40 years. It's time for someone else to have a go now."
Morning Report's new presenters, Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner, start their roles tomorrow.