Members of the public join TV3 staff to celebrate Campbell Live as moving tributes to show flow freely.
Campbell Live's final broadcast last night received the show's highest ratings ever
It was watched by 484,000 viewers live and a further 48,000 on TV3 + 1.
The show beat TV1's Seven Sharp, which had 411,580 viewers in the 7pm time slot.
Campbell Live tweeted that it was TV3's biggest show of 2015.
John Campbell had TV3 staff in tears last night as he made a heart-felt speech after signing off from his last show.
The Herald can reveal the Campbell Live host spoke to hundreds of staffers who had gathered in the show's Eden Terrace building when the 7pm show ended.
As they sipped champagne, wine and beer, he told them that journalism was endangered and to "let journalism shine".
He added: "Journalism matters. It's never mattered more than now."
News boss Mark Jennings also addressed staff, his voice breaking, and said it was "a night for the newsroom, not the company".
3D journalist Sarah Hall told members of the public, who had gathered at the Flower St headquarters, that hundreds of staff members had stood in a guard of honour as Campbell walked down the hall after the show.
As the show aired, boxes of champagne and other drinks were taken through the back of the building. A courier driver took bunches of flowers into reception.
While signing off on air, Campbell fought back tears.
"I started here aged 27 in a suit I borrowed from my dad," he said.
"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."
Campbell had been joined on air by several members of the show's production and reporting team, who he paid tribute to. The show took viewers through a montage of previous stories covered by the team.
The show ended with a shot of Mr Campbell driving out of TV3's headquarters, which had been pre-recorded.
Earlier, the presenter received kisses from 3 News hosts Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts.
A small crowd, some holding candles and many with cups of champagne, gathered outside and were let into the building to watch the show in reception.
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."
Campbell Live reporter Ali Ikram went to the reception after the show to thank members of the public.
The Herald can also reveal that the show's 22 staff were brought together by Mr Jennings in a 4.30pm meeting yesterday to be told that for those who were staying, new roles were being created in the week they were being given off. Executive producer Pip Keane, reporter Ali Ikram and another producer had signalled their intention to leave at the end of the final show.
Campbell Live started in March 2005, shortly after Paul Holmes left TV3's rivals at TVNZ, leaving a vacuum in the 7pm current affairs slot.
The decision last week to axe the show, following a controversial six-week review, is understood to have come as a bitter blow to the show's host and staff, who believed the ratings spike - and continued advertiser and sponsor support - had been enough to save the programme.
Broadcaster and former One News anchor Alison Mau paid tribute on Twitter to Campbell, as did Australian comedian Rove McManus.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that John Campbell is twice as popular as Paul Henry, according to TV3's own research.
Extensive polling commissioned by Mediaworks late last year, understood to be when the channel's bosses were weighing the future of the now-departed broadcaster, showed Campbell was picked by 29 per cent of respondents as their most preferred current affairs presenter.
Paul Henry rated 14 per cent.