WATCH: Hilary Barry signs off for the very last time

Vids 27/05/2016

Long before reality television, Hilary Barry was making television real.

As a fresh-faced reporter 20 years ago she already had that ability to engage an audience, armed of course with her trademark honesty.

Even the most mundane stories were cleverly turned into the kind of television event we all remembered, and when the nation needed her most -- like when the Christchurch earthquake struck in 2011 -- she was there.

She was a calming voice in a landscape of uncertainty and reported from some of the world's biggest stories.

"As our face and voice on so many big news events, Hilary has been the narrator for so much of New Zealand's recent history," Acting Chief News Officer Richard Sutherland said.

"She is a world-class broadcaster while at the same time being a down-to-earth New Zealander -- a very rare mix indeed. We'll miss her, and wish her all the best."

Long-time co-anchor and friend Mike McRoberts backed up those sentiments.

"I've had the honour of working with Hilary for more than 11 years, and in that time we've shared the most amazing experiences," he said.

"There's not a day I would swap, nor one I won't treasure."