New Zealand television host resigns over racial comments

Presenter Paul Henry leaves job after diplomatic protest from Indian government.

New Zealand television presenter Paul Henry resigned on Sunday, following a diplomatic protest lodged against him by the Indian government regarding offensive remarks he made about Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Previously, Henry, who anchored TVNZ's 'Breakfast' show had been suspended without pay when he made an on-air racial slur against Indian-origin Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, asking New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key if Satyanand was "even a New Zealander".

In a later broadcast, Henry deliberately mispronounced Dikshit's name. He claimed it was "so appropriate" because of her being Indian.
TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis has accepted Henry's resignation, according to a statement on the broadcaster's website.

"I am astonished and dismayed that my comments have created a diplomatic incident," said Henry in a statement, apologising for his comments.
He added that it was "no longer practical" for him to continue at his job because he did not want to become a "lightning rod for racial disharmony".
"The reality is that his comments have split the community and damaged New Zealand's international relationships," said Ellis commending Henry's decision to resign.