Holmes at home re­vealed

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS -

Mana Lodge is a bit like Sir Paul – quite grand, but com­pletely un­pre­ten­tious. A warm, fam­ily place with wide hall­ways dot­ted with qui­etly ex­pen­sive an­tiques. Noth­ing flashy, ev­ery­thing solid and com­fort­able, and taste­ful.

I first went to Mana Lodge more than a decade ago, in cir­cum­stances that were so typ­i­cal of Paul’s gen­eros­ity. It was 2005, dur­ing the short reign of the Paul Holmes show at Prime TV. In the news­room one day Paul stum­bled on a ker­fuf­fle; our cam­era op­er­a­tor, Steph, was get­ting mar­ried in a few weeks and her wed­ding venue had can­celled her book­ing with­out ex­pla­na­tion. She was dis­traught.

The rest of us crowded round to con­sole her but typ­i­cally, Paul had the an­swer on the spot: ‘‘Get mar­ried at my place!’’

The wed­ding was as beau­ti­ful as the venue, but what Steph re­mem­bers most was the way Paul looked af­ter her Nana, Eni Milne, de­light­ing her with a per­sonal tour of the grounds on his quad bike.

Ten years later, I MCed a char­ity night at Mana Lodge hosted by Lady Deb­o­rah, who, with her usual kind­ness, let us stay the whole week­end at the big house. Paul had passed away two years ear­lier but his pres­ence was still in­tense in the book-lined study – it was easy to imag­ine him there, writ­ing his op-eds with the wood burner roar­ing away be­hind him.

You could spend hours gaz­ing at the Lin­dauers and Frizzells – it is these that will go on sale at Auck­land’s Gow Langs­ford gallery next week.But for me the best dis­cov­ery was hid­den away in the tiny loo just near the front door.

A framed let­ter, dated 1976 and signed by the Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral of Ra­dio New Zealand, be­rat­ing Paul for mak­ing in­ter­na­tional calls to the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury and putting them live to air. It’s a scathing five para­graphs that cul­mi­nates in his dis­missal; ‘‘You can re­gard your re­cent be­hav­iour as hav­ing put an end to your use­ful­ness to Ra­dio New Zealand.’’

I can just see Paul glee­fully giv­ing it a ‘‘proper home’’ in the dunny.

STEPH MOHI

Paul Holmes and Eni Milne at Mana Lodge.

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