Controversial broadcaster Paul Henry has resigned from Television New Zealand today.
Prime Minister John Key said through a spokeswoman that Mr Henry’s resignation would bring “closure” to the episode that he described as “sad and regrettable.”
Reiterating that New Zealand was not a racist country, he also said "It's what comes out of the Government's mouths rather than the broadcasters' mouths that's most important."
Announcing his resignation, TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis told One News, "I think it is a credit to Paul that he took this decision on his own.
"I think if this had continued in the days ahead then we could be under some stress from advertisers.
In a statement, he apologised to those who had been offended by "Paul's inappropriate on-air comments."
"I will be apologising in person to the Governor-General. I also apologise to the Indian community, both here and in India," he said.
"The reality is that his comments have split the community and damaged New Zealand's international relationships, and there is no going back from that,” Mr Ellis added.
Paul Henry said, "It is no longer practical in the current environment for me to do the job I was employed to do, and have so enjoyed doing. It is also difficult for TVNZ to get on with the business of being a first class broadcaster as long as I remain."
Green Party Member of Parliament Keith Locke has welcomed the resignation. “The huge public reaction to his discriminatory comments made it impossible for him to return to Breakfast as a credible host,” he told the media.
Mr Henry was suspended for two weeks without pay for his comments about New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand when he questioned if he was really a New Zealander.
His earlier comments on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit whose name he deliberately mispronounced despite being corrected by his co-presenters and then made a derogatory comment about India and Indians caused a diplomatic row last week.
The Indian government summoned New Zealand High Commissioner to India, Rupert Holborow, and issued a demarche (an official protest). Mr Holborow apologised to the Indian government.
While Mr Henry’s comments resulted in nearly 700 complaints to TVNZ, the Broadcasting Standards Authority in Wellington had to field hundreds of calls from angry and concerned New Zealanders all through last week.
His comments on the Delhi Chief Minister and Indians brought in dozens of comments on the Indian Weekender website from readers all over the world, many of them questioning New Zealand’s reputation as a tolerant, multi-ethnic society.
Despite widespread anger and consternation in the Kiwi Indian community, there was little by way of communication from the government or the National Party to assuage community members throughout the episode. Leaders of other parties, however, sent in their messages condemning Mr Henry’s comments to ethnic media outlets (which have been published on this website).
He's had breakfast - now put him out to pasture