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Sir Paul Holmes tells of knighthood call from PM

Published: 11:13AM Monday December 31, 2012 Source: ONE News

Veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes says his knighthood is a "hell of a Christmas present".

Sir Paul has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours List for services to broadcasting and the community.

Sir Paul, 62, recently stepped down from his roles as a host on TV ONE's Sunday morning current affairs programme Q+A and Newstalk ZB's Saturday morning show for health reasons.

The news of his knighthood came from the Prime Minister in California on Christmas Day, Sir Paul told ONE News in an interview at his Hawke's Bay home.

"It's a hell of a Christmas present. And it genuinely was a Christmas present. It came on Christmas Day. I think I made a note, something like 11.32 in the morning the phone call came from John Key in Palm Springs," Sir Paul said.

"And we gossiped around for a while, I forget what we even talked about really. But he said 'But the main reason I'm phoning is on behalf of New Zealanders to be the first person to congratulate you on becoming Sir Paul.'

"I said 'wow', I said 'well thank God, that's wonderful, thank you'."

Sir Paul said he didn't know anything about it.

"I know most people say that. But perhaps it does happen like that sometimes. Well this certainly did," he said.

"I went and said to [wife] Deborah 'Would you like to be Lady Deborah or Lady Holmes?' She said 'Are you serious?' And I said 'yeah'."

The Prime Minister had told him he could take his wife to lunch and ask her does she want to be Lady Holmes or Lady Deborah, Sir Paul said.

He said broadcasters have not been greatly honoured in the past.

"The broadcasting sector, which is full of fine and exacting and dedicated professionals, has not been greatly honoured over the years. So that means a bit to me on behalf of the broadcasting community."

Paul Holmes began his career on radio in Christchurch in the 1970s, taking over as Breakfast host of 1ZB in Auckland in 1987. He went on to also front his own nightly TVNZ news programme Holmes in 1989, and in more recent years hosted Q+A.

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 said people have to take opportunities as they arise.

"One of the secrets of life is opportunity. And if you get an opportunity you've got to take it, 'cause that'll lead to other opportunities.

"I've taken punts on where to go and so forth. And yes, I think I've shown courage in my work and life. I hope so."

'The common touch'

Sir Paul said having "the common touch" has been important to him in his broadcasting career.

"It just seemed to be the obvious thing to do was to have a common touch, was to speak in such a way that people could understand you, or that people are not intimidated by you or think you're too poncey," he said.

"I suppose that has been an important part of my broadcasting, simply to speak to people as they would want to be spoken to, as they speak to other people themselves.

"If people think they can tell you their stories without you being Mr High and Mighty, I think they'll tell you more of them."

Sir Paul underwent open-heart surgery in June and has prostate cancer.

He told ONE News it's "a matter of hoping actually" and that he is fighting "a tough battle".

His wife is "the light of my life," Sir Paul said.

"She's wonderful. I'm so pleased that she's got this honour too. I think she'll be Lady Holmes, I'm not sure."