Paul Holmes (broadcaster)

Paul Holmes (broadcaster)

Paul Holmes
Born 29 April 1950 (1950-04-29) (age 61)
Nationality  New Zealand
Occupation Radio and television broadcaster
Known for Broadcasting

Paul Holmes CNZM (born 29 April 1950) is a radio and television broadcaster in New Zealand. As of 2009 he hosts Q+A on TV ONE, and the Saturday morning radio show on Newstalk ZB,[1] where for 23 years until December 2008 he hosted the weekday breakfast show, the long-standing number one rating breakfast show. He hosted a 7pm current affairs show called Holmes on Television New Zealand from 1989 to 2004 and a short-lived weekly show on Prime Television in 2005.


Holmes began his career on radio in Christchurch in the 1970s. He then worked in Australia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands before returning to New Zealand to take up a morning slot on Wellington station 2ZB.

In March 1987, Holmes took over from 1ZB host Merv Smith, who had been breakfast host for many years. This coincided with a change in format from community radio (middle of the road music, news, community notices etc.) to newstalk. The change was controversial, as many long-standing Smith listeners did not like Holmes or the news, interview and talkback format with no music. 1ZB fell to seventh position in the ratings and it took over a year before Holmes' show eventually rose to number one in the ratings for the programme's time slot.

In 1989, Holmes became part of the younger, new-look revamp of Television New Zealand's prime-time news. His 7pm network programme (simply titled Holmes, initially starting at 6:30 and later moving to 7:00 when the news was extended to one hour), analysing news items in greater depth, ran until 2004. Holmes' first TV segment featured guest Dennis Conner, the America’s Cup skipper. After being provoked, Conner walked off the set, providing Holmes with headlines the next day.

Holmes published an autobiography in 1999. A year later he released an album on CD, simply titled Paul Holmes.

On 2 November 2004 he resigned from his TV show after contract negotiations failed. It was reported by TV3 that Television New Zealand would not renew his contract for more than a year. Shortly after this he moved to rival TV company Prime Television, which had offered a three-year contract.

His new show, Paul Holmes, launched on Prime on 7 February 2005. In February 2005, the show rated 7.1 percent for its timeslot, compared with his former programme on TV One (renamed Close Up) at 31 percent share. In March 2005, following the launch of a rival show on TV3, Campbell Live, Nielsen Media Ratings listed Holmes' show at 4 percent. Poor ratings forced a timeslot change to 6 pm after only four months. By this time, the show had been retitled Holmes.

However, these small changes were not enough to save the show, the timeslot change proving fatal. On 8 August 2005, almost six months to the day after the show launched, it was axed by Prime Television, with Prime chief executive Chris Taylor citing poor ratings and inability to attract viewers from the traditional primetime news strongholds of TV One and TV3. The show returned in a weekly format in late 2005 and in 2006 was revamped into an hour long chat show similar to the popular UK show hosted by Michael Parkinson.

In 2005, Holmes was dropped from the New Zealand Listener’s 50 most powerful people list largely because of his TV show's poor ratings and influence.

Paul Holmes also appeared on Shortland Street as Leslie Grant.

He appeared on Māori Television's Waitangi Day coverage on 6 February 2007. In March, TV One, Holmes's former network, announced that he would be among the "stars" on the third season of the New Zealand version of Dancing with the Stars.

Holmes has survived multiple aircraft crashes, including a helicopter crash into the sea at Anaura Bay in June 1989, which killed fellow passenger cameraman Jo Von Dinklage.[2] In 2004, he had two crash landings piloting his vintage Boeing Stearman biplane, on 14 January southeast of Turangi,[3] and on 31 December at Bridge Pā Aerodrome near Hastings.[4]

Holmes supported his adopted daughter Millie Holmes through her arrest and trial for possession of P (methamphetamine).[5][6] Charges were eventually dropped.[7]


Holmes has often gained media attention for a range of controversial remarks about prominent individuals and issues, including a comment made in 2003 about wahi tapu (Māori sacred places).

In 2001, the Broadcasting Standards Authority ruled against Holmes for lack of balance and journalistic integrity in a series of news stories covering a campaign dubbed 'A Generation Lost?' The campaign, led by Auckland-based marketer Richard Poole, blamed the then Helen Clark-led Government for a brain-drain of 'young New Zealanders', a key political issue at the time. The campaign was later exposed as politically motivated and financially backed by the New Zealand Business Roundtable, which Holmes was reputed to have known about but did not disclose. [1] [2]

In September 2003, he repeatedly referred to then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a "cheeky darkie" during a rant on his radio show, as well as using "darkie" to refer to black people generally.[8] There was an international outcry following the comments, but Holmes kept his job after making several emotional apologies, claiming he had been "tired". However the major sponsor of his TV show, Mitsubishi Motors, withdrew its support.

In March 2004, he called the then-Israeli Prime Minister the "butcher Sharon." Later that year he described Tariana Turia as a "confused bag of lard", "a bully" who "folded under pressure" and who did not have the "guts to vote", as being "all mouth and no trousers, all talk and no walk” and a "complete fool".[9]

In November 2010, TVNZ announced it would investigate official complaints regarding Holmes' performance on the current affairs show Q&A during an interview with various players in the Hobbit film project controversy. [3]


  1. ^ Edward Gay and John Drinnan (19 December 2008). "'Shove this job up your a***' - Paul Holmes exits breakfast". The New Zealand Herald. 
  2. ^ Swarbrick, Nancy (21-Sep-2007). "Air crashes". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  3. ^ Thomson, Ainsley (17 January 2004). "Lost Holmes has his wing clipped". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  4. ^ Macbrayne, Rosaleen (1 January 2005). "Holmes cheats death - again". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  5. ^ Donna Chilsholm (6 April 2008). "Millie Holmes on drugs, dad and detox". Sunday Star Times. 
  6. ^ Carolyne Meng-Yee (21 October 2007). "Millie Holmes: 'I did the crime - I'll do the time'". The New Zealand Herald. 
  7. ^ "Millie Elder drugs charges dropped". NZPA. 
  8. ^ Excerpt from Paul Holmes News Talk ZB radio programme. <>
  9. ^ Carroll du Chateau (13 December 2008). "Paul Holmes looks back". The New Zealand Herald. 

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