Sir Paul’s big day

Michael Dickison at the NZ Herald reported:

Yesterday he was honoured for his long contributions to broadcasting and charitable causes in front of dignitaries and 100 guests at his Hawkes Bay lodge. In a 35-year career Sir Paul broke new ground as a current affairs host in television and radio, was acclaimed as he expanded his journalism into newspapers and books, and championed several important social causes. He became one of New Zealand’s most prominent personalities, widely recognised for his humour and humanity.

Pam Corkery on ZB yesterday made the very pertinent point that Holmes became our most powerful broadcaster but that he didn’t use that position just to knock things down, but also to build things up such as his support over many years for the Paralympics or the humanity he and others showed to Eve van Grafhorst.

Mr Holm read out a selection of Sir Paul’s achievements: building his breakfast radio show up to No1, creating a new style of current affairs television programme in Holmes, investigating the country’s biggest issues – notably his best-selling book on the 1979 Air New Zealand crash in Antarctica, Daughters of Erebus, and winning awards for his writing.

I’m trying to recall what used to be on television at 7 pm before we had the Holmes Show, and its successors.

Sir Paul pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his nose.

He had got hay fever for the first time in his life, he said.

“The old cancer found me out and has started to do some funny things.

“We still have a lot of fun, a lot of good times, but soon realities have to be faced … We haven’t had a chance to meet with the doctor to discuss what’s going on, but I don’t think it’s flash.

“I don’t think Houdini will do it this time.”

Sir Paul has survived a car crash, fatal helicopter accident, light aircraft crash and previous illnesses. But last year he had surgery for cancer and then for his heart. After the open-heart surgery his cancer returned.

He said he wanted future generations to remember him as a decent bloke.

It is a sad reality that Sir Paul is in his final weeks, and won’t get to enjoy much of his retirement in the Hawke’s Bay.

Guests drank champagne and he posed for pictures with Lady Deborah. He carried his new medal proudly.

A minor point – she is Lady Holmes, not Lady Deborah as she is the wife of a knight, not the daughter of a peer.

“The plan was I would build this farm and retire here, and live a long and wonderful life basking in my former great career,” he said. “But along comes the bloody [illness].”

Still, he is living every day full of laughter, with his wife and family alongside him.

“I wake up every morning and prepare for another day of life, like you do,” Sir Paul said.

I’m glad they threw away the normal protocols and arranged for the special ceremony. It sounds like it was a very emotional day.

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