A 76,000-signature combined petition to remove Mike Hosking as moderator for the upcoming political debates has been delivered to TVNZ.
But the broadcaster says it will not be removing Hosking from the debates, the first of which will be held at 7pm tomorrow night on TVNZ 1.
The petition was hand-delivered by organiser Erica Finnie to the station's head of news John Gillespie today.
Finnie said as well as the 76,491 signatures, more than 3600 people had emailed Gillespie in the last fortnight to personally ask for Hosking's removal, along with hundreds of people who made their views known on TVNZ's Facebook page.
Hosking has made no secret of his right-wing leanings but has dismissed the criticism, saying he ran a
in the lead-up to the 2014 elections.
His Seven Sharp co-presenter Toni Street today hit back at Hosking's critics, saying he did a good job in 2014 and "I can't see why it won't work again".
"The reality is, you're an adjudicator, you steer the traffic. There is no time for you to give any form of opinion whatsoever," she said.
Street said Hosking was a "polarising figure" with strong opinions but said that was what made him good at his job.
But Finnie today said Hosking's political commentary was "consistently socially irresponsible".
A confusing and incorrect statement Hosking made last week about who could vote for the Maori party "illustrates the harm of his influence on democratic process", Finnie said.
Gillespie commended the petitioners for making their voices heard but said 2014's debate had been "fair and balanced" and Hosking would not be taken off the debates.