Veteran broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes has died

Veteran broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes died this morning aged 62.

Sir Paul rose through the ranks of media in New Zealand, and not long into fronting his self-named TVNZ current affairs show became as much a celebrity as those he interviewed.

As his popularity grew, Sir Paul's personal highs and lows also made headlines. Every twist and turn in his life became public property including a battle with prostate cancer and a near-death experience in a helicopter accident.

More recently it was again his health which made the headlines; his career was put on hold when his cancer returned early last year (2012) and he underwent open-heart surgery in June.

He briefly returned to the country's screens and airwaves, but in December (2012) he announced he was retiring from broadcasting because of poor health.

An unexpected phone call from Prime Minister John Key on Christmas Day ended Sir Paul's "annus horribilis" with an "unexpected, wonderful" gift in the form of a knighthood.

Sir Paul was born on April 29, 1950 to Christina and Henry. He grew up in Haumoana, Hawkes Bay with his brother Ken (born 1952), and went to school in Hastings.

In 1972 he completed a BA at Victoria University and joined the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation as an announcer in Christchurch.

A bright future was almost cut short when Sir Paul was involved in a near-fatal car crash in 1973. 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.

In 1989 he again made headlines when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed into the ocean off the North Island's east coast killing a man. Sir Paul survived and swam to shore.

Sir Paul was New Zealand's dominant broadcaster from the late 1980s into the new millennium, hosting a radio show on Newstalk ZB in the mornings and primetime television current affairs in the evenings.

He is also an author, and in 2011 published Daughters of Erebus, a re-assessment of the cause of the 1979 disaster in which an Air New Zealand DC-10 crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 people on board.

Sir Paul has championed several charities, notably the Stellar Trust, leading the fight against methamphetamine, or P.

In 2009 he began hosting TVNZ's political show Q+A. He wrote a column for the Herald on Sunday, before transferring to the New Zealand Herald.

In recent years he had been living with current wife Deborah at a Hawkes Bay farm with gardens and thousands of olive trees.

His investiture as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit was held there on January 16 this year (2013). Family had requested the ceremony be fast-tracked because of his ill health.


- Northern Advocate

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