Tough interviewer Holmes among honoured
He wants to be remembered as a ''nuggety little bugger'' but Paul Holmes is going to have to add sir to that title.
Sir Paul, 62, who last month ended his broadcasting career due to poor health, was one of seven new Knights Companion on today's New Year's Honours list.
Aucklanders Justice Judith Potter and businesswoman Wendy Pye were appointed Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Dame Judith has been a High Court judge since 1997, Dame Wendy the founder of a successful educational export company, selling more than 218 million copies of books, television shows and internet material in 20 countries.
Holmes called a halt to his working life after prostate cancer he was first treated for more than a decade ago, returned more aggressive than before.
"Tell people that. That's all they need to know," he said, as he stepped aside.
In an earlier interview, he said he wanted to be remembered as ''a nuggety little bugger'' but he says he will be happy to be called sir.
Prime Minister John Key had called on Christmas Day to tell him he was to be knighted, he told Fairfax Media.
Holmes has long been among the most recognisable faces and voices in television and radio, and reshaped the way both went about their business.
When he took over as breakfast host of 1ZB in Auckland in 1987, Holmes fronted a controversial change in format from community radio to news and talkback. From an unpromising start, his show gradually rose to No 1 in the ratings.
His television show - titled Holmes - also started amid controversy in 1989, when America's Cup yachting great Dennis Conner stormed off after being stung by the host's hostile questioning.
"I didn't expect it ever," Holmes said of his knighthood.
"It's a long time since a broadcaster was honoured. I'm honoured for broadcasters."
While he was credited with changing the face of broadcasting Holmes said: "I have only ever tried to do my job. That is all I tried to do."
Later in the interview he relented, saying "I may have changed broadcasting a bit".
"Even if the interview is sometimes tough and a bit sharp, I always let people get away with something to bring back next time. I never set out to humiliate people."
As well as being honoured for services to broadcasting, he was knighted for services to the community. He has been a fundraiser and spokesperson for many causes, particularly the Stellar Trust, active in the fight against methamphetamine drug P.
At Queen's Birthday in 2003, he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to broadcasting and the community.
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.
At London this year Todd, the first New Zealander knighted for services to equestrian, and Andrew Nicholson became the first Kiwis to compete in six Olympic Games.
Todd, 56, became the oldest New Zealander to win an Olympic medal when the eventing team took bronze, a feat that equalled the world record for the longest gap between first and last Olympic medals - 28 years.
He won the first of his five medals aboard his wonderful horse Charisma in Los Angeles 1984, and in 1999 was named the eventing rider of the 20th century by the International Equestrian Federation.
The knighthood would "take a bit of getting used to", Todd told Fairfax Media.
"I imagine I'll get some ribbing when I compete next year, but I can live with it."
Holmes and Todd combined for a gripping television interview in 2000, after British newspaper accusations the equestrian great was dabbling in cocaine and casual relationships with men.
The Sunday Mirror ran grainy pictures that year of Todd allegedly snorting cocaine with a man - an episode he called a "squalid tabloid set-up".
He appeared on Holmes but refused to deny the allegations, saying only that the question was "a curly one".
First-time Olympic gold medallists Nathan Cohen, Joseph Sullivan, Eric Murray, Hamish Bond (all rowing), Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (sailing) and Lisa Carrington (kayaking) were all appointed Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM), as were Paralympic gold medallists Mary Fisher and cyclist Phillipa Gray.
Dr Alan Bollard, Reserve Bank Governor until this year, was made a CNZM, one level below a knighthood. Among others afforded that honour were Hawke's Bay winemaker John Buck and electromagnet magnate Bill Buckley.
Top Auckland chef Tony Astle, former Kiwis rugby league coach Graham Lowe, former Auckland Grammar School headmaster John Morris, agribusiness leader Dr Philip Yates and former National Party president John Slater were among those made Officers of the Order (ONZM).