Holmes at home revealed
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.
Paul Holmes and Eni Milne at Mana Lodge.