At the bottom of this page you will see the words ‘Site: McGovern’. They refer to McGovern & Associates, the web designers Judy and I went to when we were thinking of launching this site. We really had no other choice, not through any shortage of web designers, but because it would have been unthinkable not to go to people I had known and liked ever since coming to Auckland in 1989 and perhaps longer than that – Paul Reynolds and his partner Helen Smith. Paul died suddenly yesterday morning, a death as unthinkable to his legion of friends as it was unexpected. Russell Brown on Public Address and Bill Ralston on Facebook have both paid tribute to him and those who did not know him will find Paul’s extraordinary life and achievements graciously and affectionately summarised there. My earliest memories of Paul Reynolds are of hearing him on National Radio.
He was a regular on Kim Hill’s Nine to Noon programme where he enthused about books, commented in his lovely, lilting Scottish accent on anything and everything and, later, introduced so many of us to this new-fangled invention – the Internet. He was a superb broadcaster, a natural: warm, enthusiastic, erudite, inspiring, wry, funny. Had Paul been a book, you could not have put him down. I used to do television reviews on Nine to Noon, and occasionally found myself following Paul doing a book review or talking about the Internet, him in Wellington, me listening on my earphones in the Auckland studios. Waiting. Kim could not put him down either. Who could blame her; regardless of his topic he was entrancing, hypnotic. And he was eating into my time. In a less brilliant communicator, it would have been forgivable, but Paul was altogether too hard an act to follow. In later years we confessed to and joked about our on-air rivalry, both seeing it for what it really was – the highest professional compliment possible.
I have a memory of him appearing on a TV3 arts programme called Sunday which I was hosting. He’d brought his laptop along and was going to demonstrate this still fledgling wonder, the Internet. The idea was that he would flick from site to site while we talked and we would all be amazed. But if the sites appeared at all, they did so at a snail’s pace. It was the only time I saw Paul angry. His beloved child had failed to perform. Paul was not an angry person, except perhaps about social injustice. That made him angry. He had a towering intellect, yet I never saw him put another person down. He was unpretentious, generous, kind and he made you laugh. He was a good man, whom New Zealand could ill-afford to lose, and I am deeply saddened by his passing. Judy’s thoughts and mine are with Helen and his daughter Melanie, whose loss is greatest.