Paul Henry reaction not letting up
The flood of reaction from TVNZ broadcaster Paul Henry's governor-general slur continued today in the form of online messages and radio talk-back, while an MP went as far as suggesting New Zealand could do with multi-cultural legislation.
Henry's on-air question to Prime Minister John Key asking if Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was "even a New Zealander" and whether the next governor-general would "look and sound like a New Zealander" has sparked a record number of complaints to TVNZ.
As well, there have been complaints over another recent Breakfast episode where he worked himself up into a fit of laughter over the name of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
In between laughter, Henry last week referred to the minister as "dickshit", despite having been told her name was pronounced "dixit." He also appeared to make a slur against Indians in general.
He has been suspended for two weeks from Breakfast over the governor-general comment and also lost the opportunity to host This is Your Life on Sunday, a job which has now gone to Paul Holmes.
Messages have streamed in to the TVNZ website, and while Henry has generally been taking a slating over his comments, there were also messages of support from people referring to complaining "do-gooders."
Some said people were being too politically correct and that they would not watch Breakfast until Henry returned, while others said they had already switched off and wouldn't tune in again if Henry returned.
United Future leader Peter Dunne said the controversy showed New Zealand still had some way to go before it was a genuinely multi-cultural society.
"Mr Henry's public comments were gratuitous and insulting and TVNZ's response has been pathetic," Mr Dunne said.
The situation suggested there was a need to have something such as Canada's Multiculturalism Act "to both reinforce multiculturalism in our own country, and to require government agencies such as TVNZ to adopt multiculturalism policies at all levels of operation," he said.
TVNZ has been criticised after initialling defending Henry as being typically outspoken before appearing to realise the level of offence he had caused.
The president of the Fijian-Indian Association in Wellington, Vinod Kumar, said the suspension was a token punishment.
"The punishment that has been handed down does not fit the crime," he told Radio New Zealand.
Mr Kumar said he was worried what offence Henry might cause next.
"Is there going to be any form of reprimand? Is he going to be put on notice? Is there any form of counselling that his employers need him to undertake so that, seeing that he is a repeat offender of this nature, will not be repeated?"
Henry apologised on air after making the comment and, while he has shown some remorse, he lost his cool when he came across reporters waiting outside his North Shore property yesterday, directing a tirade of expletive-laden abuse at them.
Sir Anand, who has lived in New Zealand since being born here, has been diplomatic over the incident, but agreed Henry had crossed the line.