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The broadcaster, journalist and author has been made a knight in the New Year Honours - and if he were to offer one piece of wisdom befitting his new rank, it would be to take the opportunities that come before you.
"If you keep saying no, life will take you nowhere. Say yes and go."
Sir Paul is among seven knights and two dames created today.
Others include Sir Owen Glenn, Sir Bob Harvey, Sir Mark Todd and Dame Wendy Pye.
Sir Paul was at his Hawkes Bay farm - rolling land with gardens and thousands of olive trees - when the Herald called.
"You've caught me in the early evening, sitting outside with my wife, overlooking the hills at the farm ... and I just felt so happy. I just said, 'I'm so happy'."
Sir Paul was New Zealand's dominant broadcaster from the late 1980s into the new millennium, hosting a radio show on Newstalk ZB in the mornings and prime-time television current affairs in the evenings.
He is also an author and last year, published Daughters of Erebus, a re-assessment of the cause of the 1979 disaster in which an Air New Zealand DC-10 crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 on board.
Sir Paul has championed several charities, notably the Stellar Trust, leading the fight against methamphetamine, or P.
He was a late addition to the honours list. Notification from the Cabinet Office arrived eight days after the rest of the list.
"This email is to advise you that the Prime Minister has recommended, and the Queen has approved, a further addition to the New Year Honours List," it said.
"To be a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Mr Paul Scott Holmes... For services to broadcasting and the community."
Sir Paul ended his 35-year broadcasting career this year after serious health complications.
In January, he had an operation for prostate cancer, and in June he had open-heart surgery.
The Prime Minister telephoned him on Christmas morning.
"He was phoning from California and we chatted away for a while, and he said, 'I'm really phoning' - because he doesn't phone me out of the blue - 'to be the first person to congratulate you on behalf of the people of New Zealand on becoming a knight'."
After a long, tough year, the news had come as an unexpected wonderful gift, Sir Paul said.
"My wife was there and I said, 'Good morning, Lady Holmes'. She said, 'Really?' and I said, 'Yeah'."
Sir Paul said he would like to think he had been good to people as often as he could and as much as he could.
In broadcasting, he broke barriers during his 15 years hosting the current affairs show Holmes, adopting a popular, widely accessible approach.
"If it was populist, I say what's wrong with being populist if you're helping people to get a handle on the great issues of the day?" he said.
"Current affairs should be something enjoyable. We should take pleasure in finding out about our issues."
Sir Paul, who began his career on radio in Christchurch in the 1970s, said he quite liked the sound of "Sir" - he wouldn't say no.
"It feels wonderful. It's just a lovely little bonus at the end of a hard year, and it's been a hell of a year.
"Life has been - and is - bloody wonderful."
- By Michael Dickison of NZ Herald