John Campbell has greeted journalists waiting outside TV3 with a hug after signing off from Campbell Live for the final time tonight.
"I'm sad. I've worked here for 24 years... since I was 27 years old, an unworldly 27 years old. It's been a big part of my life," he said.
"It's been a big day and a big few weeks."
Campbell acknowledged the state of journalism right now in New Zealand, saying there was a need for reporters to fight to tell stories that mattered.
"It's a tough, tough time to be a journalist [in New Zealand]."
He acknowledged this week's announcement of up to 150 jobs going at Fairfax.
"That's a tragedy. Journalism matters and we have a public broadcaster - TVNZ - through no fault of their own are configured under a piece of legislation that requires them to pay a dividend first and foremost.
"We have to have discussions about this as a country. We have to say, 'Do we value journalism and do we need to pay for it'."
Earlier, an emotional John Campbell took a look back on a decade of current affairs as Campbell Live took to the air for the final time.
The presenter received big, sloppy kisses from 3 News hosts Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts ahead of the final show tonight.
At the end of 3 News tonight, Barry and McRoberts paid tribute to Campbell. The pair embraced the current affairs host and both offered him a "sloppy kiss."
"We love you so much," Barry said.
More than 20 members of the show's production and reporting team were in the studio.
"What an excellent group of people," Campbell said.
A montage of previous reports was presented to viewers.
Journalists covering stories on the Novopay scandal, battery chicken farming, the devastating Christchurch earthquakes and other major events were shown.
Reporters including John Sellwood, Tristram Clayton and Mike Wesley-Smith have featured on the show.
Campbell Live also reminded viewers of stories it broke including the exposure of advertising fraudster Anthony John Hendon, and the explosive interview former Employers and Manufacturers' Association boss Alasdair Thompson had with Mihingarangi Forbes.
Campbell Live also exposed fraudsters who duped people in travel and English language teaching scams.
The show's campaigning style, which reportedly irked some new members of MediaWorks management, included a focus on the Pike River Mine disaster's aftermath, and social issues such as the legal status of synthetic drugs or "legal highs."
Another social policy issue Campbell Live frequently addressed was that of child poverty.
The final episode's second segment showed snippets from visits to a low-decile school and to disadvantaged families.
"There are things in this job I will never forget," Campbell told viewers, as footage of destruction following the deadly 2011 Christchurch earthquake was shown.
In one of the show's most memorable recent reports, Tristram Clayton chased a man accused of running an employment scam down Parnell Rise.
Campbell also travelled to Samoa to investigate how aid intended for tsunami victims was being spent.
"That's not how the Fourth Estate works," he told the Samoan Prime Minister, who refused to front the issue and demanded written questions.
The current affairs host also visited Washington, DC for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Mr Campbell's retrospective also suggested the 2011 Rugby World Cup was a highlight for him.
The show's campaign to take the All Blacks to Samoa for a test match also featured.
A notable exclusive interview Campbell Live secured was with Auckland mayor Len Brown immediately after the Bevan Chuang sex scandal broke in 2013 - although that has not featured in the montage yet.
As the show drew to an end, Campbell said: "Thank you for being with us."
He thanked the 23 full-time staff members. He said producer Pip Keane also had her last day today and had always pushed the show towards "excellence".
Campbell said the team had produced nearly 2500 programmes.
He said he often felt really "blessed" to have done the show, and he also thanked viewers.
"Your trust in us is something we will never forget."
Campbell said some of his "wonderful team" would stay at TV3 even though he was leaving.
"I started here aged 27 in a suit I borrowed from my dad. I could never have dreamed what would happen in the next 24 years. Thank you so much for watching us. Ka kite ano, and a very good evening," he signed off.
The show ended with a shot of Mr Campbell driving out of TV3's headquarters in Flower St, Eden Terrace.
Earlier today, reporter Ali Ikram said those on the team had not "quite confronted the reality that this is indeed the last programme we will make together as a team".
Campbell paid tribute to colleagues and supporters online, giving a special mention to Ikram earlier today.
"You have been a beautiful friend and colleague. It's been magic," Campbell wrote on Twitter.
Campbell told viewers ahead of the programme he wanted to get 500,000 viewers tonight.
The show started in March 2005, shortly after Paul Holmes left TV3's rivals at TVNZ, leaving a vacuum in the 7pm current affairs slot.
People arrived outside the TV3 officers before the show in support of Campbell's final show, some with candles and many with cups of champagne.
The crowd was let into the building to watch the show in reception.
A courier driver arrived with bunches of flowers into reception.
While boxes of drinks and champagne were also been taken through the back where it is understood staff were gathering.
Ikram came out after the show to thank members of the public who came out to support.
Journalist Sarah Hall came out to tell members of the public Campbell was due to come out in a while.
She said up to 400 staff members had stood in a guard of honour as Campbell walked down the hall, paying tribute to him.
She said speeches were still being said and it was "hugely emotional" for everyone, including Campbell.
Aucklander Jo Bond, a self-confessed "die-hard Campbell fan" said she was devastated.
"He's stood up and confronted politicians and helped so many people. I've been following him for 10 years and I'm devastated his show's ending."
Ms Bond said she and a few others planned on paying tribute in the form of songs and poems they've written especially for Campbell.
Broadcaster and former One News anchor Alison Mau paid tribute to Campbell today.
"How do you sum up 10 years of fabulous work?" she wrote on Twitter.
Many others also took to social media.
"This Campbell Live finale is a tough watch," radio host Clint Roberts tweeted.
Roberts mentioned the show's post-quake coverage in Christchurch.
"The memory of [Campbell] outside that CTV building after the quake will never leave me."
Comedian Rove Mcmanus sent his best wishes also.