Sir Paul Holmes dies after a public life

NZ Newswire Updated February 1, 2013, 11:28 am

Top-rating radio and television broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes has died.

Family were gathered around him when he died at his home in Hawke's Bay aged 62.

As much a celebrity as those he interviewed, his personal highs and lows have made headlines - including his battle with prostate cancer, a near-death experience in a helicopter accident and his wedding, as well as the marriage's disintegration.

Born on April 29, 1950, he grew up in Haumoana in Hawke's Bay and completed his education at Victoria University while also developing a career as an actor on radio, stage and screen.

In 1972 he joined the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation as an announcer in Christchurch.

A bright future was almost cut short with a near-fatal car accident in 1973, in which he suffered a neck fracture, brain haemorrhage and lost vision in his right eye.

He recovered after several weeks in hospital and re-launched his radio career, working in Britain, Europe and the United States for much of the 1970s.

Holmes returned to New Zealand in 1985 and hit the radio waves again, hosting several shows, including on Newstalk ZB and, in April 1989, he took on television with his namesake 7pm show, Holmes.

The first episode of Holmes saw America's Cup skipper Dennis Conner walk off the set, and the nation divided over the confrontational-style interview. The show set the love-hate relationship the New Zealand public was to have with Holmes.

That same year, Holmes survived a fatal helicopter crash into the ocean off the North Island's east coast.

One man died but Holmes survived and swam to shore.

In 1991, Holmes became a father as his partner Hinemoa Elder gave birth to her second child, Reuben.

The couple married on the roof of a hotel in 1992. The glittering event was attended by political heavyweights Jim Bolger, Mike Moore and Helen Clark.

But just five years later it was all over, as Holmes left his wife for 25-year-old television reporter Fleur Revell.

Their relationship was brief and ended badly under an intense media spotlight.

Holmes wed again and his marriage to Deborah Hamilton-Holmes has lasted nine years before his death.

In 1999, Holmes was diagnosed with prostate cancer but was unfazed by the health scare, telling media: "I've fought bigger, badder bastards than this one. I'm not going to be beaten by this."

A decade later, Holmes' personal life was dragged back into the public eye when his step-daughter, Millie Holmes Elder, was arrested on cannabis and methamphetamine charges.

The charges were later dropped and Millie faced a high-profile battle to get clean, while Holmes became a crusader against methamphetamine.

Throughout his career, Holmes was both lauded and criticised by media analysts and had run-ins with the Broadcasting Standards Authority and Press Council.

In 2003, he hit global headlines for one of his most memorable on-air remarks, referring to United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan as a "cheeky darkie" on radio, which led Mitsubishi to axe its major sponsorship of his TVNZ show.

Holmes apologised several times over the comment.

That same year, Holmes was made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to broadcasting and the community.

He again came under fire in February 2012 over an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald where he called Waitangi Day "loony Maori fringe self-denial day", and said the day should be scrapped.

Around the same time, Holmes' health began to fail.

He underwent open heart surgery for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that thickens the heart muscle, making it harder to pump blood. The prostate cancer also returned.

In October 2012, he was hospitalised again after contracting an infection, and two months later, he retired from his 35-year broadcasting career because of his illness.

Throughout his media career, Holmes received numerous awards and covered major New Zealand stories including the Aramoana massacre, and also international stories such as terrorist attacks against the USA and the death of Princess Diana.

He also wrote a book on the Erebus disaster, hoping to exonerate the pilots who were blamed for the crash.

Shortly before his death, Holmes was knighted in the 2012 New Year's Honours list for his services to broadcasting and the community.

His investiture ceremony was brought forward to January 16 due to his ailing health, with Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae knighting him at home in Hawke's Bay.

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  1. Big Guy11:52pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    Knighted r a c i s t. Nuff said.

  2. RobertR10:57pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    What language is that Laurine.

  3. Dude Man10:41pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    Paul Henry next.....!

  4. 10:15pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    RIP Sir Paul, you had your faults like the rest of us but I did admire your honesty. My deepest sympathy to your family.

  5. Hangman09:35pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    I am sorry to hear of Paul.s passing and really quite young as well I wish is family well,Paul was not a great news reader and interviewer as he never allowed the interviewee to complete their questions it was more about him than anyone else, and for the job he did he was well paid,the people nz should look up to are the many thousands of people who do good work as volunteers . Not people being paid millions of dollars simply for doing their jobs. Next thing you know that c.e.o. Of Christchurch who lives in Hamilton and flies home every weekend and is paid half a million dollars a year. Will get a knighthood. Don,t laugh it is getting that ridiculous .

    1 Reply
  6. chinalugga09:26pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    I'm sorry he died so young. However he was journalist and very good at being bloody rude. Never forget the day he stuck a microphone in the face of a relative of someone who had just died and asked "How do you feel?" When his daughter was in Court for drugs he asked to be left alone. Couldn't take the heat himself. #$%$1e! No time for the bastard.

    1 Reply
  7. Rob08:52pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    I feel sorry for Sir Paul because of the way he died at too young an age, I feel sympathy for his family, I admire the way he stuck up for his step daughter, but overall he really wasn't a good interviewer - it was almost always too much of his personality and not enough allowing the personality of his subject [ good or bad to show]. There are, particularly on radio, far better interviewers who allow people either to show how interesting or good they or their ideas are, or let them shoot themselves in the foot. Are people just allowing mass hysteria and mawkish sentiment [to say nothing of media hype] to influence their thinking?

    1 Reply
  8. Iona House08:39pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    All of the sheeple on here should watch the movie, The Running Man, to see how you all get brainwashed by the media and advertisng. You all made the guy a lot of money by keeping his ratings up. He was well paid for what he did and part of that nasty group of people who form media and magazine in this nation from wealthy families with contacts who want everyone to work for slave labour, while they get paid big dollars! Don't be sucked into all the media hype! Televison in this country has turned into #$%$ with all the game shows and shallow usa style sensationalised talk shows

    2 Replies
  9. Laurine08:10pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    ha ha travis bicke your the thick sheep i am talking about need these womans weekly sorts to live your life though a dumb sheep cant thing for your self baaaaaaaa

  10. PG07:29pm Friday 01st February 2013 NZDTReport Abuse

    Always had a smile, esp away from the camera!


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