Hundreds gather to farewell Phillip Leishman

Pallbearers carry iconic broadcaster Phillip Leishman at his funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral, Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson
Pallbearers carry iconic broadcaster Phillip Leishman at his funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral, Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson

Hundreds gathered today to farewell "genuine good guy" and broadcaster Phillip Leishman at St Patrick's Cathedral in Auckland.

Leishman, 61, died earlier this week after becoming seriously ill following the return of a brain tumour.

Monsignor Bernard Kiely led the service which opened with Queen's 'These are the days of our lives' playing over a photo montage of Leishman.

The church was filled with mourners including fellow broadcasters Peter Williams, John Hawkesby, Richard Long and Simon Dallow.

So many people came that some had to stand during the service.

Videos highlighting Leishman's 40 year television career played - live crosses to the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and the Wheel of Fortune game show he hosted in the 1990s.

Leishman is survived by his wife Michelle and their three children, Harry, Lily and India.

Monsignor Kiely told the congregation Leishman was "so proud" of his three beautiful children and noted that he was the third prominent broadcaster the nation had farewelled in recent weeks.

Broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes died on February 1 and radio host Kevin Black on February 18.

"He was very clear in the past few weeks of how he wanted to be remembered," Monsignor Kiely said.

Leishman's brother Mark, also a television presenter and producer, told the congregation "he did it his way", referencing the Frank Sinatra song played to his brother just before he died.

Leishman slipped into a coma on Sunday and died at his St Heliers home early on Tuesday.

He died a year and a day after the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

He had surgery last year but the cancer had returned.

"For the first time in his life he was average," Mark Leishman said.

He told the congregation about growing up with his brother in Timaru, where their broadcasting careers were ignited by the family's love of the radio.

"Thank you for being larger than life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stick out my chest and say, 'I'm Phillip Leishman's brother'," Mark said.

Phillip's older brother David spoke of Phillip's "stellar broadcasting career" and said what a "genuine good guy" he was.

"One of his proudest moments was not when he received his Order of Merit but when Harry enrolled in university."

Leishman was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting and the community in 2011.

David Leishman ended his eulogy with a Dr Seuss quote: "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Leishman's friend Bryn McGoldrick called him the "epitome of a local boy made good".

Mr McGoldrick said he was an inspiration to his daughter Laura McGoldrick, sport reporter and radio presenter

Leishman's daughter Lily said one of the best memories she had of her father was their time spent together tracing their family roots before she began her university studies at Dunedin.

"Thank you for spoiling me, thank you for being an incredible dad," she said.

His daughter India said her dad was "one of the good guys".

"As they say, the brightest lights burn out the fastest."

Leishman's son Harry said he was "forever grateful" for what his father did for him, and only wished he was still around so he could pay it back.


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