Broadcasting veteran Phillip Leishman is gravely ill with an aggressive form of cancer.

Leishman, 61, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February last year and had surgery in March to have it removed.

The operation was successful but treatment would be ongoing, it was reported.

"He has come through the surgery well," said close family friend Leanne McGoldrick at the time.


"It's a difficult time for the family as they come to terms with the news of his brain tumour and the options for treatment."

But despite the operation, the cancer has now returned. He is at home with family in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers.

A familiar television face since the early 1970s, Leishman's best known role was as host of game show Wheel of Fortune, but it is in the world of sports broadcasting where his legacy will be most keenly felt by friends who call him a "real gentleman".

He was the cherub-faced sports presenter who sat alongside such broadcasters as Dougal Stevenson and was named sports broadcaster of the year in 1978.

Racing was a big interest and he presented Turf Talk with Glyn Tucker until the show closed in 1979.

He has also been a long-time supporter of children's charity Variety.

Leishman, who has three children with wife Michelle, had a television career over four decades, latterly as the host of the HSBC Golf Club.

Leishman has also covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games for TVNZ, as well as yachting, tennis, league and rugby.

From 1991 to 1996 he hosted 1250 episodes of TVNZ's first series of quiz show Wheel of Fortune alongside Lana Coc-Kroft.

He was hosting when boxer David Tua famously appeared to ask for the letter "O for awesome".

Phillip also hosted one-off entertainment specials including the Halberg Awards and the last ever televised Miss Zealand Show.

He hosted the New Zealand Cricket Awards from 2008 to 2010.