OPINION: Sir Paul Holmes was a polarising figure, yet news of his death has been met with a strikingly uniform sense of national loss.
As a broadcaster, people seemed to either love him or loathe him, hanging on his every word or scrambling to change the channel. His enduring popularity leaves no dispute, though, that there were many more people in the former category than in the latter.
Two generations of New Zealanders grew up with Sir Paul. He was part of the furniture of New Zealand life; a window through which many Kiwis saw the world, and a staple of their daily routine. The death of someone who has been so familiar for so long always brings with it a deep sense of nostalgia.
People like Sir Paul, we think, will just always be around, and when they aren't any more, it reminds us that life waits for no-one.
Sir Paul became a national treasure because he reflected so much about what it means to be an everyday Kiwi. He was ordinary-looking, plain-spoken, cheeky, and believed in a society in which everyone got a fair go.
But he also reflected some of worst aspects of life in New Zealand, racial bigotry chief among them. His infamous "cheeky darkie" comment (which he later recanted) will forever be associated with his name, as will his appalling Waitangi Day column (which he didn't).
Some hold those incidents up as evidence that he was a racist, but they smack more of an intellectual laziness common to too many Kiwis grappling with the complexities of race relations in New Zealand.
The high regard in which Sir Paul is still held by many prominent Maori, and the moving tribute paid to him yesterday by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, probably paint a more accurate picture of his core beliefs than anything else.
He was one of us, warts and all. He was imperfect, just like us. He was a classic Kiwi character, and just an ordinary bloke. But he had a talent like no one else. MidCentral District Health Board should be commended for its response to several serious privacy lapses relating to patients' personal information. As reported on the front page of today's Manawatu Standard, the board has treated the incidents seriously, investigated rigorously, and is implementing measures to prevent further breaches.
On top of that, MidCentral has been upfront with the public through this process, demonstrating a commitment to transparency that will help restore the public's faith in the way patient information is handled by the organisation.
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