8 Feb 2013

Friends farewell a 'fearless and fair' broadcaster

11:06 pm on 8 February 2013

Friends of Sir Paul Holmes have given eulogies at his funeral, describing him as a fearless and fair broadcaster.

Hundreds of mourners gathered inside the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Auckland suburb of Parnell on Friday afternoon to farewell the 62-year-old. About 60 more watched the ceremony on a large screen outside the Anglican church.

Karamu High School students perform a haka as Sir Paul's casket is brought out of the church.

Karamu High School students perform a haka as Sir Paul's casket is brought out of the church. Photo: RNZ

Peter Beaven, a close friend since high school, told the congregation that Sir Paul mastered the art of telling news with personality.

"He could find something interesting and special in everyone he met, regardless of their station in life. New Zealanders invited Sir Paul into their homes and in return he opened his heart to them."

Another school friend, Mike Williams, said Sir Paul was a mad, outrageous character and joked that they'd left a screw loose on his coffin to reflect his complex personality.

Former Newstalk ZB colleague Brent Harman said Sir Paul was the best broadcaster of our time - describing him as insightful, inquisitive, interesting and funny.

Another colleague, Bill Francis, said Sir Paul had a vision about how to communicate in a distinctly New Zealand way.

"He wanted success more than anyone I ever knew, using his gifted genius to take him to the top. But you don't achieve that without one other ingredient. In the field of broadcasting front person, he also worked harder than anyone I ever knew."

Mr Francis said while Sir Paul was no saint, he knew he was working with the greatest broadcasting talent of our time.

His daughter, Millie Elder-Holmes, spoke through tears, quoting her father from one of his columns, in which he said: "Be proud of your strengths, and laugh at your weaknesses - if you dream it, begin it."

Sir Paul's family was to hold a private service following the main ceremony.

Politicians, sportspeople and people from various charities Sir Paul supported throughout his life were also at the service.

Several hymns were played before the ceremony and a visual tribute to Sir Paul showing clips from his current affairs television show was played.

The Very Reverend Jo Kelly-Moore said the service would balance the needs of his family with those of a nation which felt it knew him.

Sir Paul died at his home at Poukawa near Hastings on 1 February after suffering prostate cancer and heart problems.

He was knighted in the New Year's Honours for his services to broadcasting and the community and a special ceremony was held in January.

He presented NewstalkZB's breakfast talk programme for 21 years, leading a brand change which saw the ZBs switch from light music and family entertainment to an all-talk format.

On television, the Holmes programme was a prime-time ratings winner for 15 years on Television New Zealand with a mix of news interviews and tabloid-style stories.

The Holmes family at the hearse before its departure.

The Holmes family at the hearse before its departure. Photo: RNZ