Sir Paul's funeral biggest since Sir Ed's

The children of Sir Paul Holmes are expected to pay tribute to their father at his funeral in Parnell today, where organisers have prepared for more than 1000 mourners to gather.

Organisers at the Holy Trinity Cathedral would not release any details about who would speak at the service but it is understood his adult children, Millie Elder and Reuben Holmes, were planning yesterday to talk about their dad.

The 1pm funeral is expected to be the largest hosted by the cathedral since Sir Edmund Hillary was farewelled in 2008.

Reverend Ann Mellor, a friend of Sir Paul's for 10 years who is leading the ceremony with the Very Reverend Jo Kelly-Moore, said her advice to those paying tribute was to speak from the heart.

"I think you have to forget the audience and talk from your heart and talk about Paul as he was to you," Reverend Mellor said.

"I think that he loved his family and they loved him, and so that will certainly come up in the service.

"Even though the cathedral will be such a public space ... given his celebrity status, the family will still be given and allowed by us and those present the privacy of their own mourning."

Dignitaries will sit alongside family members in the cathedral that has hosted the funerals of many high-profile New Zealanders.

Four screens will be set up inside and a large screen will be in the courtyard for crowds that cannot fit inside the 1100-seat cathedral. The 90-minute service will be broadcast live on Newstalk ZB.

Prime Minister John Key has offered his apologies for not being able to attend the funeral; instead he will welcome Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to New Zealand when she arrives in Queenstown later in the day.

National Party minister Gerry Brownlee will represent the Government at the funeral, while Labour leader David Shearer and Auckland Mayor Len Brown will join dignitaries. There will be a large contingent of paralympians in honour of Sir Paul's contribution to Paralympics New Zealand, including paralympic swimmer Duane Kale who is expected to speak during the service.

Guests will include friends and colleagues from various media organisations, including Newstalk ZB, APN News and Media, TVNZ, RadioLive, and Metro magazine.

There will also be seating for members of various charities and community groups, including the Starship Children's Hospital, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and the Stellar Trust.

Reverend Mellor said she felt honoured to have been invited by the family to help officiate at Sir Paul's service.

"I think there will be so many people from different aspects of his life that covered such a broad spectrum," she said. "I hope the service itself will be able to touch their hearts. This will be a place where they can remember him and give thanks for what he had given them. That's what we hope to achieve.

"Without a doubt [people will be moved]. They're moved by their grief but also the other aspects of him that they might not know."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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