tech commentator Ben Gracewood has quit the show after host Paul Henry this morning urged Prime Minister John Key to select a Governor-General who "looks and sounds more like a New Zealander".
The interview has already sparked two complaints from viewers following this morning's
programme, and now Mr Gracewood, who has a regular slot reviewing gadgets on the show, has confirmed Mr Henry's comments about Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was "the last straw".
Mr Gracewood this afternoon tweeted: "If anyone wants a gadget/tech commentator for TV, get in touch. I've just pulled out of my
slot. Final straw."
When contacted by nzherald.co.nz, Mr Gracewood confirmed he had quit the show. "I don't want to make too big a deal of it, but I can't work with him," he said. "I grew up in South Auckland, I believe in a multi-cultural society."
In a statement on his website, Mr Gracewood said: "Paul Henry's comment made me very uncomfortable as a New Zealander, and I don't wish to associate or be associated with people who make such comments... I love our multicultural, vibrant country to death, and anyone who would like to foment racism simply for a laugh or to get more viewers can take a jump."
Other Twitter users have also expressed their outrage.
Media personality Brian Edwards tweeted: "Anand Satyanand - an erudite, thoroughly charming, hugely entertaining man and a wonderful host. Paul Henry - ??????????????????"
Comedian Raybon Kan said: "Paul Henry asking if our Governor-General is "even a New Zealander" reminds me of the people who ask to see Obama's birth certificate", while Public Address blogger David Slack tweeted: "That must be a ton of makeup they put on Whaleoil each morning before they put him next to Pippa."
On this morning's show, Mr Henry asked Mr Key whether Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was a New Zealander or not.
When assured by Mr Key that he was, Mr Henry asked if he was going to pick someone who looked more like a New Zealander next time.
Sir 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 taking up the job in August 2006.
He was born and raised in Auckland, attending Richmond Road School in Ponsonby, and Sacred Heart College in Glen Innes. His parents were born in Fiji and migrated to New Zealand, his grandparents were born in India and had migrated to Fiji.
programme this morning Mr Henry asked the Prime Minister about who he was looking to replace Sir Anand with when his five year term ends this year.
"Is he even a New Zealander?" Mr Henry asked.
Mr Key said he was.
"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 this time?"
Mr Key appeared slightly uncomfortable with the line of questioning and moved on to joking about whether Mr Henry wanted the job.
He said whoever was chosen would need to be acceptable to other parties and his selection would be run by Labour.
"This is the Queen's representative and you don't want to embroil her in a domestic political spat."
A spokesman for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said Mr Henry's remarks were a matter for TVNZ to comment on.
A spokeswoman for TVNZ said there had been two complaints this morning but the state broadcaster is standing by Mr Henry.
"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," she said.
"The question of John Key is the same, we want the answer but are to scared to ask."
Sir Anand is in India for the Commonwealth Games. His public affairs manager Antony Paltridge told NZPA: "We won't be dignifying that sort of comment with a response."
Labour leader Phil Goff said Sir Anand was as much a New Zealander as he was.
"I would rate him as one of New Zealand's best Governors-General. Anand is a person that grew up in this country, understands this country as well as anybody... a fantastic Governor-General."
The comments were "silly... I think that was Paul Henry being Paul Henry".
Henry previously called Scottish singing star Susan Boyle "retarded" and on another occasion mocked the facial hair of one of his female guests; anti-nuclear campaigner and Greenpeace worker Stephanie Mills.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld complaints in those cases.