It's happened again. A slip of tongue, maybe, on the part of Paul Henry, presenter of a show on national TV in NZ. Maybe a careless remark, thrown in, as presenters tend to do, when they get turned on by the fact that millions are watching and listening to them.
He remarked (to John Keys, the Prime Minister of NZ) if next time NZ is going to appoint a Governor General (yes, NZ still has a GG of the British Monarchy) who looks and sounds more like a New Zealander.
The present GG is Sir Anand, who was born in Fiji and is Fijian Indian origin, but grew up all his life and did his schooling in NZ. In fact, technically he would be more 'New Zealander' than Henry because Henry was born in UK and did his schools there, and only then came after working with BBC to NZ.
"Is he even a New Zealander?" Henry asked. "Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time?"
Isn't that amazing. A national TV presenter on national TV saying such a thing.
Maybe (like TVNZ defend themselves) the show, hosted by the outspoken Henry, has been known to have voiced opinions of people that are not necessarily comfortable spoken out.
That is actually what TVNZ said to defend themselves. So, what is TVNZ saying? That people of NZ actually think they need a Governor General who looks and sounds like a 'New Zealander' (whatever that would mean) but they are just uncomfortable about speaking it out, and they silently applaud Paul Henry for making it loud and clear on their behalf?
If Paul Henry is not taught a lesson (even sacked), my reputation of NZ will drop. It got front page coverage on the paper today. It was clearly heard by millions of TV viewers. A tech-guy from the TVNZ studio resigned yesterday.
If nothing is done to show that NZ regrets the statement (because it was made on national government run TV channel), its reputation as a liberal and open minded nation will have fallen. If people have heard it said, and still do nothing about it, it will only mean they have agreed.
Let me get this straight though. I am not being extremely sensitive. I know lots of people making fun of Indians and Asians, as much as the blond/blondes and Caucasians and Africans are made fun of. Mockery is almost part of human nature.
But you have to be sensible when you are on national television and speaking on behalf of your countrymen. Even if you try and remain human and crack jokes now and then, you need to know your voice is also the voice of the millions who are watching you and who you/your show is labelled after.