Sir Paul Holmes dies

02:07, Feb 01 2013
Paul Holmes
Broadcaster Paul Holmes signs off from his radio breakfast show for the last time, with his mother Chrissie.
Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes during his last week at his Newstalk ZB studio in Auckland, in December 2008.
Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes in court during the drugs trial of his adopted daughter Millicent Elder in 2008.
Paul Holmes
Deborah and Paul Holmes.
Paul Holmes
TVNZ's former Q+A Team (L-R) Guyon Espiner, Dr Jon Johansson, Dr Therese Arseneau, Paul Holmes.
Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes, Judy Bailey and John Hawkesby hosted the 1990 Telethon.
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Paul Holmes with Winston Peters.
Paul Holmes
The broadcaster wrote about the Erebus air crash in his 2011 book Daughters of Erebus.
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Paul Holmes gets a wipe down before a televised Leader's Debate at Avalon studios.
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Paul Holmes with his a vintage Second World War training aircraft.
Paul Holmes
Holmes crashed his plane into a deer fence on Ngamatea Station near Taihape in 2004.
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Paul Holmes defected from TVNZ to Prime TV in 2005.
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Paul Holmes began his broadcasting career in the 1970s.
Paul Holmes
Broadcaster Paul Holmes receives a standing ovation after being knighted by Governor-general Jerry Mateparae.

''He loved people and people loved him.'' Sir Paul Holmes' family put it simply, but perfectly, after his death this morning.

Tributes are pouring in for the former Christchurch broadcasting legend, who died at home surrounded by his loved ones.

Holmes, 62, had been battling heart problems and the return of prostate cancer, which he recently said was more aggressive than before.

Paul Holmes 1990
Published in The Press in December 1990 with the caption: Dec 7 1990 published with caption: "I think I could say that Auckland doesn't know much about Christchurch and Christchurch doesn't understand Auckland."

His family said that he died peacefully at home, just as he had wanted.

"More than just a broadcaster, Paul was a loving husband and father, as well as a generous friend. He loved people and people loved him."

His wife, Deborah, Lady Holmes, and children, Millie and Reuben, and brother, Ken, thanked the public for their "incredible support", but said they now needed privacy to grieve.


Paul Holmes reads The Press
OCTOBER 12, 1990: Paul Holmes poses with a copy of The Press.

Information on how the public could pay tribute to Holmes would be announced in due course.



Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Holmes was one of the great characters of broadcasting and a man who pushed boundaries.

Parker and Holmes crossed paths many times throughout their broadcasting careers.

Although there were was some tension between the two early on in their careers, Parker said, in recent times the pair had enjoyed a "comfortable relationship".

"He was an amazing guy who enjoyed being on the cutting edge of broadcasting," Parker said.

Holmes had been one of the first to see the potential of commercial radio in New Zealand and he had shifted people's expectations of broadcasters.

"He opened up commercial broadcasting in a way no-one had had the courage to do before,'' Parker said.

"He was a pioneer who created a lot of opportunities for every broadcaster who followed in his footsteps.

"He was a guy who enjoyed pushing boundaries and was able to cope to with the inevitable backlash that followed some of his actions.

"He was a really clever guy, a smart guy. We've lost one of the great characters of broadcasting."


Holmes "wrote the rule book for this generation of broadcasters", a former colleague says.

Christchurch broadcaster Ken Ellis worked with Holmes at the ZM radio station for a few years in the early 1970s.

Ellis fondly recalled Holmes' "larger than life personality" and described him as a born performer.

"He was exciting to be around. There was always an air of danger with him because you never knew what he was going to do next,'' he said.

"He had a vast array of characters up his sleeve and he was wonderful with voices. He was such an original broadcaster and he really has written the rule book for this generation of broadcasters."

Ellis remembered when in 1976 Holmes succeeded in getting then Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan, the worldwide head of the Anglican Church, on-air while fronting a Christmas-time radio show.

"To get the archbishop on-air was not done in those days,'' he said.

''It was a huge no-no, and I remember the producer pulled him off air, and that was the first time Paul properly flexed his muscles to see how far he could go."

The stunt, in which Holmes famously asked Coggan to put down his glass of sherry for a chat, got him fired from Radio New Zealand.

Holmes had the right amount of "faith and skill", and Ellis said he had followed Holmes' broadcasting career with interest.

"His most recent faux pas, the 'cheeky darky' comment, was one of those things,'' he said.

''Paul is not a racist and I think he got a raw deal over that. It would have been one of his slips into a Dad's Armycolonel-type character."

Ellis said the veteran broadcaster was "one of the best" and brought to television a "very fine inquiring mind, well-read, great brain and showbiz".



Prime Minister John Key said it was 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 said.

"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. 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 offered his condolences and described Holmes as a passionate New Zealander.

"He had a fine sense of the ordinary Kiwi, along with an uncanny understanding of the issues of the day,'' he said.

"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."

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said Holmes was part of the family.

"Sir Paul had a long and illustrious career with TVNZ and he has many friends here. He's been part of the TVNZ family for so long. From our family to his, we extend our deepest sympathy,'' he said.

"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."

TV3 Firstline host Rachel Smalley tweeted: "Gone well before his time. Rest in peace Sir Paul Holmes. You were an icon."

Broadcaster Jason Gunn joined her on the social network, saying: "RIP Sir Paul. The most generous, genuine, caring, funny and talented broadcaster. Thank u dear man for all that you taught me x."

See a timeline of Holmes' career below: