Sir Paul Holmes knighted at home

By Michael Dickison, Hawkes Bay Today staff, APNZ -
Sir Paul Holmes at a special investiture ceremony due to poor health to be appointed a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit at his home at Mana Lodge, Hawkes Bay. Photo / Richard Robinson
Sir Paul Holmes at a special investiture ceremony due to poor health to be appointed a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit at his home at Mana Lodge, Hawkes Bay. Photo / Richard Robinson

Sir Paul Holmes has been congratulated for his knighthood at a special investiture ceremony in front of about 100 guests, including dignitaries, at his Hawkes Bay lodge.

Under a white marquee tent on his wide back lawn, he was given a "dubbing of the sword'' by Governor General Jerry Mateparae.

The dignitaries, including Prime Minister John Key and Leader of the Opposition David Shearer stood up to applaud the honour bestowed to the veteran broadcaster, journalist and author.

Though visibly frail, Sir Paul shook the hands of guests as he walked down the aisle, and even gave a wink to Mr Shearer upon returning to his seat.

Sir Paul said his health was ``an imbalance''.

"It's not good, generally. I don't think Houdini will do it this time.''

He said the honour meant a lot personally, for his family, for the Paralympics cause, for all of broadcasting, and for the Erebus plane crash case, which he had written a book on.

"The honour today means an incredible amount on so many levels.''

In his speech, Sir Jerry said the journalist had celebrated "the colourful, the passionate and the expressive side of our national psyche'' throughout a long and varied career spanning print, radio and television.

"You have asked hard questions of politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities. And you have told the stories of everyday New Zealanders as they celebrated the good times, and grieved in the sad times.

"As you said at the close of your nightly programme for 15 years: `Those were our people today, that's Holmes tonight.'

"Sir Paul, your achievements and commitment to your work as a broadcaster and supporter of community initiatives have brought us together here today.

"Your legacy to New Zealand broadcasting, as a pioneer - in talkback radio, and in news and current affairs on television - is considerable. You are man of many talents, skills and endeavours whom we acknowledge and celebrate today.''

Today's investiture ceremony was moved forward to accommodate the 62-year-old's ailing health. He underwent heart surgery last year and continues to battle an aggressive prostate cancer he was first diagnosed with nearly 10 years ago.

The Haumoana-born, Karamu High School foundation student retired late last year as one of the most recognised media personalities New Zealand has ever had.

As a high school student he auditioned at the local radio station and acted in theatre productions. At Victoria University his study interests moved from law to arts.

Sir Paul's career as a radio host in the 1980s transcended the format change from community radio to a news, interview and talkback format.

His primetime current affairs show Holmes got off to an explosive start, with American yachtsman Dennis Conner walking out of an interview in its debut episode.

The show went on to change the face of broadcasting, with the hard-hitting often controversial interviews continuing into Sir Paul's recent gigs on Prime TV, Newstalk ZB and TV1's Q+A.

"You have achieved excellence in broadcasting and helped in your community, and you have done those things in your very own way," Sir Jerry said.

"Throughout your long and varied career that includes work on the stage, on television and radio, and in the printed word, you have celebrated the colourful, the passionate and the expressive side of our national psyche.

"You have asked hard questions of politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities. And you have told the stories of everyday New Zealanders as they celebrated the good times, and grieved in sad times."

Today also honoured his commitment to the community - notably the public causes he championed including the Paralympics, his work with anti-methamphetamine group the Stellar Trust, motivated by his daughter's own struggles, and the Auckland Westpac rescue helicopter charity.

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