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Monday 23 October 2017

TV host quits after name error sparks major row

A New Zealand television host has quit after sparking a diplomatic row when he ridiculed the name of Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of the Indian capital, New Delhi.

Television station TVNZ came under heavy criticism after its Breakfast show host Paul Henry mispronounced Dikshit, despite being told by the lead anchor that the correct pronunciation is 'Dixit'.

India summoned New Zealand's high commissioner last week to formally protest against what it said were "racial remarks" involving Dikshit, who was asked last month to take charge of the floundering Commonwealth Games preparations.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said this week that Henry had resigned after several hundred complaints to the broadcaster regarding his Dikshit comments and questioning whether the nation's Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, who is of Indian descent, was "even a New Zealander".

"He has made that decision and I guess over the last week he's had some time to reflect on the comments," Key said on Monday.

Key said there had been no pressure from himself or the government on TVNZ regarding Henry's future and it was "good that he has personally made that decision".

The prime minister said Henry's resignation would help repair any damage caused to New Zealand's relationship with India but stressed that these were comments from one person.

TVNZ Chief Executive Rick Ellis said he accepted Henry's resignation on Sunday after seven years as a breakfast TV host and apologised to anyone who had been offended by the presenter's "inappropriate on-air comments".

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