Former TV personality Hinemoa Elder has re-emerged in the public eye, reflecting on the death of her late ex-husband Sir Paul Holmes for the first time.
"It was awful. It was horrible. It was horrible to see somebody that I loved for many years dying," Dr Elder told The AM Show on Monday, lamenting the legendary broadcaster's 2013 death.
Dr Elder came to fame after appearing on after school TV shows in the 1980s-1990s such as 3:45 LIVE! and the Bugs Bunny Show. She married Sir Paul Holmes in 1992, with whom she had a son.
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Dr Elder also had a daughter from a previous relationship, Millie Elder-Holmes, who was arrested in 2007 on charges of methamphetamine possession, and faced further drug charges in 2009, which were eventually dropped.
Millie and Sir Paul had a close relationship, with the broadcaster telling TV 1 one of the proudest moments in his lifetime was when Millie referred to him as "dad". He stood by his step-daughter throughout her court hearings, despite his marriage to Dr Elder ending after five years.
Referring to their son Reuben Holmes, who she said is "taller than Paul", Dr Elder said the thing that she reflects on is that Mr Holmes will not be able to see his children grow up and "to see Millie get really well and see our boy do so well".
Coping with Mr Holmes' death was not straight-forward, Ms Elder explained, telling The AM Show she followed her "gut instinct", and kept reminding her son and daughter that they would "get through this somehow".
"They'll go on and have their own children one day and he's not going to see any of that and that's very sad," she said.
Sir Paul died in 2013 at the age of 62 after battling prostate cancer and an ailing heart.
Dr Elder is now a doctor dedicated to improving the health system for Māori. She won the Women of Influence award for innovation in 2017 and is back as one of the awards' keynote speakers this year, after spending most of the last two decades out of the public eye.
"It feels okay," being back in the public eye, she said, telling The AM Show people have different chapters in life, and that her new focus lately has been on working in mental health as a psychiatrist.
Dr Elder said New Zealand is in a state of emergency with mental health problems, and said she feels a "huge responsibility" being New Zealand's only child Māori psychiatrist.
"Our suicide rate is beyond appalling and so I am deeply concerned and would want to encourage other people to enter health careers."
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