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host Paul Henry has released a statement in which he "sincerely apologises" to the Governor-General for controversial comments he made on-air this morning.

"I sincerely apologise to the Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand for any offence I may have caused," says the statement.

"I am aware that Sir Anand has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand.

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"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.

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

On the TVNZ programme this morning, Mr Henry asked Mr Key whether Sir Anand 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.

Apology 'inadequate'

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

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"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 Mr Locke.

"Mr Henry needs to apologise to all those who he as demeaned as not being true New Zealanders - firstly all people of Indian descent, and then all other ethnicities he holds don't 'look' like New Zealanders.

"Television New Zealand cannot sidestep this one, as it has done so far," he said.

Many

Herald

readers had similar views. "When is someone just going to 'apologise' without qualifications like "sincere" (a quality that others attribute to you, not something you claim for yourself) and why do so many of them say, in effect, 'if I caused offence'?" asked Gary Stewart.

Another reader, Adam Levy, said "This is typical of the faux apologies proferred by media personalities who boost ratings by attacking minorities. They say 'Gee, I didn't mean to offend anyone'. But they don't withdraw their comments or apologise for what they actually said."

PM 'taken aback' by comments

Prime Minister John Key says

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host Paul Henry's comments about Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand were "just plain wrong" but they won't stop him from appearing on the show again next week.

At his post-Cabinet press conference today, Mr Key was asked his opinion on Mr Henry's comments.

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

Asked whether he encouraged Mr Henry's comments by joking with him, Mr Key said: "I don't think I can be held responsible for what Mr Henry says.

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

The Prime Minister wouldn't comment on whether he thought the comments were racist, nor whether disciplinary action should be taken against Mr Henry.

"That's a matter for TVNZ and the Broadcasting Standards Authority to decide."

Asked if he had ever considered not going on

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because of Mr Henry's past controversial comments, Mr Key said no, and confirmed he would be appearing on the show next Monday in his regular weekly spot.

New Zealand's first female Governor-General, Dame Catherine Tizard, told Radio New Zealand she was astonished Mr Key did not pull Henry up on his comments.

Dame Catherine said Mr Key should have asked Henry to define what New Zealanders look like.

Joris de Bres says Henry 'disrespectful'

Earlier today, race relations commissioner Joris de Bres slammed Mr Henry's comments as "extremely disrespectful" and "a sad commentary on his state of mind".

"The implication of his comments seems to be that anyone of Indian or Asian descent cannot be a New Zealander and should not hold public office unless they 'look or speak like one'," said Mr de Bres.

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 too scared to ask."

Mr de Bres said: "I am intrigued to know what Paul Henry's definition is of looking and speaking like a New Zealander, given that New Zealand's population includes 650,000 people of Asian descent and many people of different ethnicities who speak English with a wide variety of accents."

Mr de Bres said the response from a TVNZ spokesperson that "one of the things the audience loves about Paul Henry is that he's prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud," revealed a similar attitude on the part of the broadcaster.

"I doubt that Indian and many other New Zealanders would be quietly thinking these particular comments."

He advised people who wished to make a complaint about Paul Henry's comments to do so on the basis of broadcasting standards, and direct their complaints to TVNZ and the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

A TVNZ spokeswoman said the broadcaster had received "several dozen" complaints by late this afternoon.

The president of the Wellington Fiji Indian Association, Vinod Kumar, said he was "deeply depressed" when he heard what Mr Henry said on

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.

"We are quite deeply disturbed by the racist remarks he is making," Mr Kumar said.

He was also disappointed by John Key's response to Mr Henry's question.

"The Prime Minister didn't appear to put him into place."

Mr Kumar said Mr Henry should not be back on television following the comments.

"I don't think he should be anywhere near having his opinions aired again."

Regular contributor quits

Earlier today,

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tech commentator Ben Gracewood quit the show after taking offence at Mr Henry's comments.

Mr Gracewood, who has a regular slot reviewing gadgets on the show, said it was "the final straw", this afternoon tweeting: "If anyone wants a gadget/tech commentator for TV, get in touch. I've just pulled out of my

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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."

Public outrage

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."

A spokesman for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said Mr Henry's remarks were a matter for TVNZ to comment on.

Sir Anand is in India for the Commonwealth Games. His public affairs manager Antony Paltridge told NZPA he had spoken to Sir Anand, who acknowledged Henry's apology.

However, he would not comment on Mr Henry's initial statements.

"We won't be dignifying that sort of comment with a response," he said.

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".

Mr 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.

Last week, Mr Henry provoked several complaints for repeatedly mispronouncing the name of Delhi's Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, despite being corrected.