Wellington: A television channel show host was suspended Tuesday for an on-air racial slur on the country`s Indian-origin Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand.
During a TVNZ programme Monday, Breakfast show host Paul Henry asked Prime Minister John Key whether Anand was a New Zealander or not. When Key told him that Anand was a New Zealander, Henry asked if he was going to pick someone who looked more like a New Zealander next time.
In a statement Tuesday, TVNZ chief executive officer Rick Ellis said Henry`s remarks were inappropriate for anyone in the company to make, New Zealand Herald reported Tuesday.
"I have met with Paul and told him that while his apologies were the right thing to do, I still consider his remarks unacceptable for any employee of TVNZ to make," Ellis said.
Henry Monday apologised for his remarks. He said: "I sincerely apologise to the Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand, for any offence I may have caused."
Henry has been suspended effective immediately without pay until Oct 18, the report said. "We give Paul a lot of freedom with the Breakfast programme and he does a magnificent job. But as we have said before, with that freedom comes responsibility," Ellis said.
"When Sir Anand returns from the Commonwealth Games I will be personally apologising to him," he added. Sir Anand was an honoured guest at the colourful opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi Sunday evening.
Anand is New Zealand`s first governor-general of Indian and Pacific ancestry. He had a lengthy career as a lawyer, judge and ombudsman before being appointed to the job in August 2006.
He was born and raised in Auckland. His parents were born in Fiji and migrated to New Zealand while his grandparents were born in India and had migrated to Fiji. Earlier, TVNZ spokeswoman Andi Brotherston had put out a statement defending Henry`s remarks.
"The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he`s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud," said the statement.