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Sir Paul Holmes dies at Hawke's Bay home

Published: 9:38AM Friday February 01, 2013 Source: ONE News

Sir Paul Holmes was like the "everyman" and lived an "extraordinary" life which should be celebrated, says veteran broadcaster Mark Sainsbury.

"It's terrible that he's died at this age, but we've got to celebrate a huge life," he said.

"He did all the things that anyone would want to do. He did a CD, he flew, he had fantastic cars, he loved richly, all those things."

The veteran television and radio broadcaster died at his home in Hawke's Bay this morning.

We have plenty of video to watch online, including the special tribute to Sir Paul Holmes which aired tonight on TV ONE.

Tributes for Sir Paul Holmes have been flowing in with politicians, television and radio personalities and everyday New Zealanders paying their respects.

Sainsbury remembers the early days of the Holmes show being controversial, but recounts how the show started a "modern style of broadcasting".

"We'd never really had personality driven broadcasting in this country before, it was alien to us, he started it," he said.

Sainsbury says it is hard to imagine the pressure that Sir Paul must have been under at the time.

"But we pursued with it and it's become the standard."

Sainsbury says the public soon saw Sir Paul as one of them.

"He was part of their landscape like no other broadcaster will ever be," he said.

"Yet, he had beautiful cars and amazing houses and knew lots of famous people, but he was still ordinary Paul to everyone.

"He had his foibles and he had his faults and his weaknesses like everyone else did, but people really saw him as someone they really knew."

'A gentleman broadcaster'

Prime Minister John Key said today's news is 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," Key said.

Labour leader David Shearer says Sir Paul was hugely respected and was at the forefront of current affairs television while being a pioneer of the talkback radio format.

"Paul was a true professional. He was hugely respected not only by his peers, but by New Zealanders across social and political spectrums.

Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei says Sir Paul challenged politicians with his focus on his audience, not on making life easy for politicians.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says he didn't always agree with Sir Pau, but held him in high regard.

He says Sir Paul was one of a rare breed who was modest enough to know that sometimes you win arguments and other times you lose.

Social media sites have been flooded with tributes.

Read more tributes here.

Leave your tributes to Sir Paul at the bottom of the page.

One of the nation's most recognisable faces, and voices, Sir Paul hosted his self-titled TV ONE current affairs show from 1989 to 2004 and presented the breakfast show on Newstalk ZB for 22 years.

His broadcasting career and his service to the community were recognised in the 2013 New Year Honours when he was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The news of his knighthood came from the Prime Minister in California on Christmas Day. An early investiture ceremony was held at Holmes's Hawke's Bay home on January 16.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae agreed to a request by Sir Paul's family due to his ailing health. Around 100 guests gathered to see Sir Paul receive his knighthood.

From a freezing works to the Holmes show

Sir Paul, 62, grew up in Hawke's Bay, and studied law at Victoria University before switching to an art degree.

In the early 1970s, he worked at a Hawke's Bay freezing works, before studying to be an announcer at the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation.

After spending nearly a decade in the United States and Europe, Holmes returned to New Zealand in 1985 and began hosting morning talk back at Wellington radio station 2ZB.

By 1989, Sir Paul was lured into television broadcasting, and presented the first nightly Holmes show in April of that year.

The show grabbed instant attention due to a controversial interview with American sailor Dennis Conner, in which Conner departed early after Holmes asked him about cheating in the America's Cup.

For the next 15 years Sir Paul juggled early morning starts at Newstalk ZB with daily preparation for his 7pm television show.

Never far from controversy, Holmes show grabbed headlines again in September 2003 when he labelled then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan a "cheeky darkie" on his radio show.

An international outcry ensued, but the broadcaster kept his job after making several public apologies.

"I was trying to shock, I was trying to provoke, it didn't work, I have apologised," he said.

The following year Sir Paul made a very different appearance, as a contestant on TV ONE's Dancing with the Stars. He also made forays into writing with Daughters of Erebus, a volume on the tragic crash of flight TE901 in Antarctica in 2011.

He has been a fundraiser and spokesperson for many causes, particularly the Stellar Trust, which is active in the fight against the methamphetamine drug P.

Sir Paul underwent open-heart surgery in June, and spent three weeks at Auckland Hospital's heart unit.

In November he was re-admitted to Hawke's Bay Hospital for observation after a bladder infection.

Of late Sir Paul has conducted interviews on TV ONE's Sunday morning political talk show Q+A.

He is survived by his wife Deborah, and children Millie and Reuben.

ONE News Reporter Paul Hobbs, speaking from outside Sir Paul's home says details of Sir Paul's funeral are expected to be announced tomorrow.

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