Paul Henry has dedicated his final stint hosting his TV3 show to his late mother, saying he had "lost my most important audience member".

Henry returned to air on Wednesday after the death of his mother Olive Hopes, who had been battling a long illness.

The broadcaster, who leaves TV3 and his Paul Henry show today, ended his final episode by telling viewers her death meant he'd made the right decision.

"This week I lost my most important audience member, which has confirmed to me it's time to end my career," he said.

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Henry, as well as co-hosts Jim Kayes and Ingrid Hipkiss, and producer Sarah Bristow, teared up during the broadcaster's emotional farewell.

Paul Henry hugs a co-worker during his last stint hosting his TV3 show.
Paul Henry hugs a co-worker during his last stint hosting his TV3 show.

Bristow paid tribute to Henry's tireless work ethic. "On TV and radio our ratings have surpassed what anyone expected. Your energy, drive, passion is truly astounding. His alarm goes off at 2.30 in the morning, he's on the phone sometimes late into the night working out what we put into the show," she said.

Henry thanked his co-hosts, farewelled viewers and thanked fans for their support before signing off one last time. "Make every day a brilliant day in paradise. Goodbye."

Henry stood up and hugged and waved at staff who had formed a guard of honour out of the studio. Henry walked to an elevator and hugged his daughter, Bella Henry, as the doors closed with the words, 'The end'.

Paul Henry's last show at TV3 finished with these words.
Paul Henry's last show at TV3 finished with these words.

Earlier, Paul Henry hinted that he may never return to TV.

The jovial broadcaster kicked off this morning's Paul Henry show - his last after a successful two-year stint at the network - by telling viewers he was "semi-retiring, with emphasis on the 'semi'".

Paul Henry leaves TV3 today after nearly two years at the network. Photo/Michael Craig
Paul Henry leaves TV3 today after nearly two years at the network. Photo/Michael Craig

Henry told viewers the news in response to queries about what he'd be doing in the future.

Henry quickly explained: he'd be doing nothing.

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"You won't be able to see my career," he responded to one viewer's message that she was looking forward to watching what he does next. "I haven't seen it as a career, it's been a selection of jobs."

Read more:
β€’ Paul Henry farewells his mum: 'I miss her dearly'
β€’ Paul Henry had one final crack at Hilary Barry this morning

He then confirmed what everyone suspected: "I'm calling it quits. I'm semi-retiring with emphasis on the 'semi'."

Henry is believed to have purchased property in Palm Springs as he eyes a move to America. But TV3 has said he will make guest appearances on a new 7pm show planned for 2017.

This morning's show also included plenty of jokes, with Henry - a nudist - threatening at one point to get naked.

"I'd be quite happy to take all my clothes off right now. There's nothing wrong with the human body - especially mine," he quipped.

Tributes flowed for the presenter, who announced in November he was leaving Paul Henry after a successful two-year stint hosting the show.

Henry told viewers their feedback was "lovely".

"People are writing in to say they don't know what they're going to do in the future. I'm so pleased about that. We cover serious stuff but at the end of the day we've actually living.

"If you can find room to put a smile in the day it's probably be better than actually not."

Henry received a gift from regular guest Judith Collins, who presented Henry with his own papier mache figure.

Henry's co-hosts Jim Kayes, Ingrid Hipkiss and Verity Johnson haven't yet confirmed what they'll be doing in the future.

This morning, sports presenter Kayes said he was looking forward to hitting the beach and "not getting up at stupid o'clock".

Newsreader Hipkiss joked the offers had been rolling in and she'd need to set aside time to colour code them all.

And Johnson, the show's social media commentator, said she was "looking forward to a more serious role in the media - I'm going on The Bachelor".

His departure comes after a controversial interview with Canvas magazine in which he commented on a woman's "perfect titties" during an interview.

Read more: Paul Henry's most controversial interview yet

Henry's show launched in April last year and has been so successful it's believed to have sparked TVNZ's recent overhaul of Breakfast - including new hosts Jack Tame and Hilary Barry.

"I'm really proud of what we've done," Henry said when he announced he was leaving the show. "But it's time for me to enjoy a life without the nightmare of 2.30am alarms.

"I don't need to explain myself; you've seen how successful this broadcasting experiment has been."

Henry said he wanted to start living again.

"Too many people spend their lives waiting to live. I don't want to fall into that trap," he said.

Read more: Paul Henry reveals the 'nightmare' reason he's leaving morning TV

TV3 said Henry would make guest appearances on The Project, a new show that replaces departing 7pm show Story.

Paul Henry, right, with his morning news show replacement, Duncan Garner.
Paul Henry, right, with his morning news show replacement, Duncan Garner.

Duncan Garner will host TV3's new morning show, The AM Show, from next year.