TVNZ Breakfast presenter Paul Henry is at the centre of a facial hair storm after he made on-air remarks about a female guest's moustache.

Women's groups are furious and TVNZ has received half a dozen formal complaints after Henry's comments on the woman's facial hair, including a question: "How hard can it be to wax?"

An unrepentant Henry says he won't apologise and that people should "get over it".

>>Watch the clip on the Spare Room website

Henry made the comments on the TV One show on Wednesday, watched by 107,340 viewers, after Greenpeace spokeswoman Stephanie Mills was interviewed about the health effects of nuclear testing.

Later in the show, Henry ignored the pleas of producers and co-host Alison Mau and read out two derogatory emails from viewers commenting on Mills' appearance, before he added his own thoughts.

"I noticed as well and I thought, 'that is a moustache on a lady'," he said.

That ignited a flurry of "angry, angry" comments, according to Mau, many of which were "really vile".

She told viewers that Henry, too, had been "quite vile".

One viewer said she had been reduced to tears and pointed out that some women had medical conditions that contributed to extra facial hair.

Henry advised her to "start a group" before asking: "How hard can it be to wax?" He told viewers that the presence of the moustache was "like the elephant in the room".

Mills was unaware of Henry's comments until the following day but after watching a clip on YouTube, she said it didn't change her "estimation" of him.

"It's trademark Paul Henry and there are bigger issues in the world to worry about - like people dying of leukaemia from French [nuclear] testing. I think he likes being controversial - that's a polite way to put it. This is who I am and people make choices about who they are.

"I have a really wonderful family, three gorgeous kids, a loving husband, great friends, really challenging job that I do part-time around all the other things I do in my life, and I love my life.

"I'm secure with myself and I feel sorry that these people are so insecure about either their own appearance or mine. This is not about me, it's about them."

She had not made a formal complaint, "at this stage".

"My main concern is I've committed a lot of my time and energy to helping stop nuclear testing and I'm really proud of that and I'd really like people to focus on those bigger picture issues. There's more to life than skin deep."

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the company had received about half a dozen complaints. "It's become part of the formal complaints process.

"The complaints are received by the programme standards manager, it's considered by the complaints committee, they respond to the complainants and if the complainants are not satisfied with that response they can refer it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority."

Women's groups want Henry to publicly apologise but he is refusing. "What would I be apologising for?" he said. "I could never possibly apologise for my point of view. I'd be apologising all the bloody time."

The Broadcasting Standards Authority was aware several complaints had been received by TVNZ.