Broadcasting legend Philip Sherry dies aged 87

  • 18/07/2021

Broadcasting legend Philip Sherry has died at the age of 87.

His family said Sherry died on Sunday morning in Papamoa surrounded by his family after a short illness.

Sherry spent decades as one of New Zealand's leading newsreaders in both radio and television news. He presented bulletins for NZBC and TVNZ before reading the very first news bulletin on TV3 when it launched.

Sherry's career began in 1960 in Wellington on local radio station 2YD. When the station became WNTV, he followed it into television before heading overseas on his OE. As he moved around the world, Sherry found his presenting skills were in demand in radio stations in Vancouver, Canada, London, England and also in Berne, Germany.

He moved back to New Zealand in 1967, taking up a role with the early evening television magazine show Town and Around. Sherry's impeccable diction and credible delivery saw him selected as one of three main newsreaders when NZBC launched its first nationwide television news programme in 1969. He managed to juggle this with early morning presenting shifts on what is now RNZ National.

Across the next decade, Sherry was the authoritative face of many television and radio shows including News at Ten, for which he won Broadcaster of the Year, TV One Network News, and 1ZB radio bulletins.

When the fledgling network TV3 launched in 1989, it turned to 'Mr Credibility' Sherry to present its first news bulletin.

Prime News presenter Eric Young says he was fortunate enough to work with Sherry.

"Philip was an extraordinary newreader, but with that, a lovely lovely man," Young tells Newshub.

"I don't know what it was, but sitting next to Philip for all of those months was one of the most educational, enlightening, gratifying, funny times you could ever imagine.

"I owe everything to Philip. I was lucky enough on the 30th anniversary of TV3 to have a brief conversation with him in which I was able to thank him."

Sherry retired from newsreading in the early 1990s and moved into local body politics, spending six years as deputy chairman of the Auckland Regional Council and later serving as a councillor in the Bay of Plenty.

Broadcasting legend Philip Sherry appearing on The AM Show.
Broadcasting legend Philip Sherry appearing on The AM Show. Photo credit: The AM Show

Sherry was known for his strong Catholic faith and stood on the list as an MP for the Christian Heritage Party. His charitable work included supporting Macular Degeneration Awareness Week.

Nearly 60 years after his career in newsrooms began, Sherry was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for his services to local government and broadcasting.

Newshub's director of news Sarah Bristow says: "For many many years, New Zealanders heard about the stories that shaped our nation directly from Philip Sherry. 

"He was trusted, authoritative and credible, with such a distinctive voice and he helped make the 6 o'clock news appointment viewing."

His contribution to broadcasting will be mourned in newsrooms around the country. But Sherry, who made it look so easy, once said this of the career that brought him into living rooms around the country and made him a national favourite: "Newsreading is like riding a bicycle. All you need is sobriety and good eyes."

Sherry is survived by his wife Margaret, seven children, many grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

And Sherry's legacy lives on at Three, with his granddaughter Isabella working in the Newshub newsroom.