Rain, tears fall as Hawke's Bay iwi, family, friends farewell broadcaster
Rain streamed from a dark sky, falling to form glistening streaks on a charcoal grey hearse as it inched down the driveway of Mana Lodge - a wreath of white lilies, barely visible through darkened glass, accompanying Sir Paul Holmes on his final journey.
A group of close family and friends, with pained expressions and tear-filled eyes, walked in procession behind the car yesterday morning.
There was a pause at the gate where representatives of Ngati Kahangunu performed a moving haka out of respect for the veteran broadcaster, just as they did at his wedding 10 years earlier.
"It's the haka of this place, this land, this tribe, it is performed only at these types of occasions, it's special," Tama Huata said.
As the hearse pulled out on to Poukawa Rd, raw devastation washed over Sir Paul's brother Ken Holmes, son Reuben, wife Lady Deborah and daughter Millie - who just minutes beforehand presented a united, yet fragile front for the media.
"The family is leaving very shortly and they are going in convoy to take Paul to Auckland," Ken said.
"Leaving today [Wednesday] it's been the end of four days having Paul here at home with us ... it's been a real great process for our grieving.
"We are holding up very well, [yesterday] we had a blessing from the local Maori people, from the Te Hauke people and also the Haumoana people where we grew up as kids, my friend Jake Scott led the charge there."
Lady Deborah and Millie stood side-by-side, with hands clasped tight for support before disappearing inside waiting cars, with a flurry of hugs and kisses.
Lady Deborah gazed straight ahead as the car she was in crept up behind the hearse, destined for Auckland, where Sir Paul made a home and built his career.
"Paul was an Auckland man really, although he was born and bred in Hawke's Bay earlier on, he never really went back until he came back here [to Mana Lodge]," Ken said. "All his friends and family and all his business contacts, all our family are mostly in Auckland."
Sir Paul's open casket would be available for private visits at the funeral directors in Remuera, before his funeral at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland on Friday.
Sir Paul passed away peacefully last Friday, surrounded by family at his Poukawa homestead. The 62-year-old had been battling heart problems and prostate cancer.
Yesterday his family thanked the public.
"We appreciate the interest that's been shown in Paul's passing and it's [in] recognition for all that attention that we would just like to say thanks as a family, thanks to the support of the New Zealand public and also thanks to the coverage by [media]," Ken said. "[It's been] really, really overwhelming, we can't believe the headlines of three major papers, with full-page headlines and none of us expected that."