New Zealand TV anchor quits over Dikshit row


Wellington : New Zealand TV show host Paul Henry, whose offensive remarks about Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit prompted India to lodge a diplomatic protest, resigned Sunday.

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Rick Ellis, chief executive of TVNZ television company, accepted the resignation, the broadcaster said on its website.

Henry had also made on-air racial slur against Indian-origin Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, who was one of the VIPs who attended the New Delhi Commonwealth Games opening ceremony Oct 3.

Earlier, Henry was suspended without pay after asking Prime Minister John Key if Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was “even a New Zealander”.

Later, he deliberately mispronounced Dikshit’s name, saying “Dick Shit” was “so appropriate” because she is an Indian.

Ellis said he commented Henry’s decision to resign because his comments impacted New Zealand’s reputation.

Henry has apologized for his comments and said it was no longer practical for him to do the job he has “so loved doing”.

“I am astonished and dismayed that my comments have created a diplomatic incident,” Henry said. “I walk the finest of lines and accept that I have inadvertently crossed it from time to time.”

Henry, who has drawn support from thousands of New Zealanders, said he was saddened that TVNZ had to suffer the consequences of his actions.

“I do not want to be the lightning rod for racial disharmony in this country,” he said.

Ellis has apologized to the Indian community in New Zealand and India, and said he will apologize to the Governor General in person.

“The reality is that his (Henry’s) comments have split the community and damaged New Zealand’s international relationships,” Ellis said. “Any suggestion of racism, whether intended or not, is unacceptable.”