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Rediff.com  » News » NZ TV host apologises to Indian-origin Guv Gen

NZ TV host apologises to Indian-origin Guv Gen

October 04, 2010 17:30 IST

Prominent New Zealand broadcaster Paul Henry has apologised after he triggered a race row involving the country's Indian-origin Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, a media report said.

While interviewing New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Monday morning, Henry asked whether Satyanand was a New Zealander or not.

"Is he even a New Zealander?" Henry asked Key.

"Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time? Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander?" Henry quizzed the Prime Minister, who appeared taken aback.

Satyanand, 66, is New Zealand's first Governor-General of Indian and Pacific ancestry. He had a lengthy career as a lawyer, judge and ombudsman before taking up the job in August 2006.

The prime minister later said Henry's comments were "just plain wrong", describing Satyanand as a fine New Zealander who did a great job.

"Well fundamentally, they were just plain wrong," said Key, adding, "Clearly, not only is he a New Zealander, he's a very fine one."

According to media reports, Satyanand's five-year term will end in 2011.

"I was a bit taken aback," he said, when asked why he brushed off the comments rather than telling Henry he was wrong.

Henry, later in the day, released a statement in which he expressed his sincere apology to Satyanand.

"I sincerely apologise to the Governor General, Anand Satyanand for any offence I may have caused," Henry was quoted as saying by New Zealand Herald.

"I am aware that Sir Anand has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand. Anyone who knows anything about me will know I am a royalist, a constant defender of the monarchy and the role the Governor-General plays in our society," the statement said.

"If my comments have personally offended Sir Anand, I regret it deeply," the daily said.

Meanwhile, Green Party human rights spokesman Keith Locke said Henry's apology "falls well short of the mark".

"He has not recognised that his comments were deeply insulting. It was not good enough for him to simply say he regrets it 'if my comments have personally offended Sir Anand'," said Locke.

Satyanand was born and raised in Auckland. His parents were born in Fiji and migrated to New Zealand, his grandparents were born in India and had migrated to Fiji, the daily reported.