Paul Henry has gone too far

GUEST BLOG BY MARTIN KAY
Last updated 13:57 04/10/2010

Paul Henry has built a career on the back of his abrasive, shoot-from-the-lip style, never afraid to offend and never far from controversy.

But he has gone way over the line with his comment that Governor-General Anand Satyanand doesn't look or sound like a New Zealander.

To his credit, Prime Minister John Key was visibly uncomfortable when Henry asked whether the next Governor-General would be more like a Kiwi than Satyanand, though he should have done more to rubbish the suggestion that Satyanand is somehow not a New Zealander because he has Indian heritage.

Anyone who has met Satyanand would be left in little doubt he is a Kiwi - hardly surprising given that he was born and raised in Auckland and spent his professional career in New Zealand.

He may not speak with a Taranaki twang, but his vowels are certainly far less rounded than those of his predecessor, Dame Silvia Cartwright, and - if we're doing the who sounds most Kiwi thing - his enunciation far less clipped than Henry's.

Which is also perhaps not surprising, given Henry did most of his schooling in England, where he moved with his mother at the age of about 11, and he worked extensively for BBC radio and television before returning home.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Satyanand is not Kiwi enough for Henry because he is not white or Maori and he has a name that's a bit hard to spell and pronounce.

Which is sad, given the fact that nearly one in ten Kiwis are of Asian descent, and about 105,000 declared Indian ethnicity at the last census (the real figure may be higher, as the third biggest ethnic group after European and Maori is ''other'').

Satyanand's elevation to the Governor-General's job was recognition for years of service as a judge and Parliamentary Ombudsman, and was widely viewed as a further step in the maturing of New Zealand as a multi-cultural nation where Jack is as good as his master  and Jill as her mistress and who you are, not what you sound like or how you look, is what matters.

It is a value that seems to have passed Henry by.

- The Dominion Post

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