Thanks.

Just a short note to respond to the hundreds of comments, emails, tweets, and phone calls I’ve received over the past couple of days. I’d love to respond to each one personally, but it’s simply not possible.

Firstly, thanks for the overwhelming positive feedback. This was a small personal decision for me that seems to have struck a chord with a bunch of people, and for that I am glad. If it inspires you to make your own stand — no matter how seemingly tiny or irrelevant — for something you believe in, then I would be eternally happy.

Secondly, to the many haters telling me to “grow up”, “have a laugh”, or “harden up”: thanks. Thanks for participating in the conversation. I don’t agree with your arguments. I’m already grown up, and contrary to what one TradeMe commenter said, it’s ok to be called Ben and be over 25.

If you’re having trouble understanding my viewpoint, try it this way: I’m fat. I wear glasses. I like hot food. People can make light of any of those aspects of my person, and I’ll happily take it on the chin. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let them associate any of that with my ability to do my job, my eligibility for public office, or anything else unrelated to my physiology.

I’m born extremely lucky because I can wear contacts and lose weight, but many of my fellow kiwis don’t have that option. Don’t use it against them.

Join the Conversation

47 Comments

  1. Oh and … I’ve had a bunch of comments about how much publicity I’m seeking. To which I say: rubbish.

    This is what I do. I blog. I have online conversations about my life. Outside of that, I’ve explicitly refused a bunch of calls from radio, TV, and newspapers asking for comment. It’s a personal decision of mine that has no place in the media.

  2. Big thumbs up! Good on you for standing up for what you believe. It would be awesome if John Key would do the same but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  3. Paul Henry is the man and i on behalf of /b/ condone his magic words of wisdom which will one day bring down the final boss of the internets.

    Good job giving up a dream-job as a reviewer because of the best thing Paul has said this year

  4. Kia ora Ben,

    I really admire you and your stance, good for you. Nevermind these idiots on here who have no lives and are clearly lacking in a few more things also, lest i go on! IF only they were people of integrity instead of people who are only brave sitting behind the safety of their screens.

    The world needs more people like you who arent afraid to stand up for what they believe in no matter what the cost. A great example for others, so thank you, ng? mihi.

  5. Hi Ben,

    I really appreaciate your integrity and courage for sticking by your values.

    As a first generation Asian-New Zealander, who was born here, brought up here, currently studying at university here, and with possible ambitions for entry into NZ public service, Paul Henry’s comments keenly hurt.

    I can handle comments regarding my slanty-asian eyes, short height, my glasses and my general non-white appearance. However, the association about my ethnicity with my ability and recognition of my future contribution to New Zealand – that – is something that really strikes deep.

    It is something that I think a lot of “real” New Zealanders do not take seriously, not because they are bigots, but simply because they have not thought about it profoundly enough. It’s true: trivialising the insult to my identity as “over-the-top anti-PC” is a perspective that lacks empathy.

    The good things to come from this is that: it will force many a New Zealander to reflect on their beliefs, and also unveil the mainstream, subtle, unconscious racism that permeates our society. Another good thing is that it was an opportunity for people like you to shine and to make me feel better and not lose pride in this little land of Down Under we call home.

    ‘Small, personal decisions’ such as yours are what change society, make history, and improve lives.

    Cheers,
    M

    1. what an intelligent and articulate comment, M.
      these are attributes that the people who tell Ben to “harden up” sorely lack.
      kia kaha.

    1. and clearly, you are a prat, tapping at the keyboard like a “professional fourth former”

  6. Paul is an entertainer. He’s there to inform, outrage and entertain.
    In fact, the only reason I ever looked at your gadget segments was when Paul was having fun with the gadgets. Like the remote control helicopter, and car.
    Without this unique entertainment, those particular segments will have been about as dull as the rest of them.

  7. As a TV producer and as Ben’s sister I would like to offer a perspective on what Ben has given up because of his fine principles, and what TVNZ is losing.

    The only reason Paul had remote control helicopters and cars and lasers to play with is because Ben is uniquely connected in the tech industry, has excellent client relations, and his suppliers like him because he is honest, funny and has integrity around their gear.

    I was the beneficiary of Ben’s skills in this area when I needed supplies for a major TV art project on a very small budget. He backed me and my production and the supplier came on board with a great price for us, thanks to Ben.

    It’s not necessarily true that businesses readily supply goods just so they can ‘get them on the telly’. More often they don’t, especially if there’s a risk the item will get broken, or bagged by a reviewer. Ben would have had to cajole the suppliers, and find things that Paul would enjoy tinkering with, and smooth the way with the suppliers when Paul tinkered a little *too* much…

    What always struck me was that it was not just a ‘gadget’ slot, but a consumer awareness slot, sifting out the dross and crap for the rest of us. And it was not just about frivolous things like remote control helicopters, but about sewing machines, emergency health gadgets, and educational toys for kids. (And those BBQ tongs with the torch in them that brought joy to many a Dad last Christmas…) In one li’l old gadget slot, Ben covered the spectrum of NZ experience. He was always thinking outside the square, ’cause that’s the kind of guy he is.

    Sure, Paul brought the goofy ‘talent’, but the contributors to those shows do a darned sight more behind-the-scenes work than anyone could know, for a nominal hourly rate.

    An hourly rate that, nevertheless, contributed to putting food on Ben’s family. So, he might get one less “Breakfast” but he gets a well-deserved sleep-in.

  8. Well, I’m gonna miss your bits… your gadet segments on TV I mean.

    Also, good for you for being true to yourself, though I have to wonder if your stance is going to reflect badly on the other regular contributors to the Breakfast Show. The ones who haven’t taken a stand. Do I now assume that they condone PH’s remarks because of their decision to continue to appear on the show?
    Does it even make sense to think like that?
    Honestly I would never had connected your appearances to anything PH said (beyond your segment) much like I would never connect people who drive cars to the mass killings of millions over the years in the battles to keep oil flowing (though thats probably because I drive a car).

    Well on the upside, if there is one, maybe they’ll give that foxy gadget girl another segment… you were good bro, but the fantasy can only go so far with you 😉

  9. At the end of the day – YOUR NOT THE ONE ON TV ANY MORE!

    What Paul said was not even that bad, yet YOU decide to miss out. Douche Bag!

    1. Hi Steve,

      You’re right: Ben is not on TV in that capacity. But you haven’t been keeping up: Paul is not on TV either at the moment, and for good reason. What he said was antagonistic, premeditated, and served only to shock in search of ratings while reinforcing racist attitudes that have no place in an intelligent society, multicultural or not.

      You’re also right in saying Ben misses out – which makes what he’s doing *all the more awesome*. How awesome would it be if we all took a stand about these seemingly little things, instead of rolling over and playing dead like good little doggies when people whistle like Paul did. Perhaps instead of playing dead, we could do a little bit of thinking for ourselves.

      But you’re wrong about two things:

      Thing One: What Paul said was definitely “even that bad”. In a public forum he effectively stated that anyone who looks or sounds Indian (or similar) is not fit to hold a public position — regardless of that person’s place or time of birth, heritage, knowledge, attitude, experience, skills, sense of humour or fair play, or anything else about them. Paul throws out from a privileged pulpit the idea that just “looking different” makes people unacceptable. Is that acceptable? Not in my New Zealand, it’s not. It’s bad.

      Thing Two: Ben is not a “Douche Bag”. Ben is my brother, and like all brothers he can be a bit of an egg — but he is also a smart, friendly, funny, honourable, considerate and gentle soul who is taking a stand based on his values and those of my family. Your comment is anonymous, cowardly, ill-considered and hurtful. I hope you are not like that in person, and I would invite you to get in touch with me to prove it. The easiest way is to find me on Twitter: @gredge.

      Thanks for reading,

      Greg

      1. Hi Greg,

        It comes as no surprise to me that as a direct relation to Ben and Gemma, you also seem to lack the same grip on reality.

        What Paul Henry ‘actually’ implied (for real this time, not made up) was that the New Zealand Governor General’s heritage was ambiguous and that when it came time to choose his replacement, would the Prime Minister choose someone more identifiable with New Zealand’s major ethnic groups. Now, I’ll fully admit, that it was a stupid and moronic thing to say, particularly as Sir Anand Satyanand is a fully fledged New Zealander and a wonderful representative. But in no way did I find it ‘offensive’ or ‘racist’.

        And that’s because racism, by definition, is the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to another. Now, at NO stage did Paul Henry question Sir Anand Satyanand’s character or ability or assert in any way that ‘white’ people (or any race for that matter) somehow make superior Governor General’s. He also NEVER stated at ANY point that he has an intolerance for the Indian people or their culture.

        What you don’t seem to realise is that your ‘moral stand’ is bullshit. It only serves to massage your precious ego into thinking that you’re doing good. Particularly as Ben’s passion for ‘gadgets’ doesn’t seem to come with the same sense of morality, especially as most (if not all) of the gadgets these days are produced in giant Chinese factories by workers who endure substandard conditions and get paid a pittance.

        But, if a provocative Breakfast presenter makes a poor choice of words, suddenly the whole Gracewood family arrives on their mighty chariots of righteousness to fight the evils of racism, irrespective of the fact that Sir Anand Satyanand himself doesn’t seem to care a toss about Paul Henry or his silly opinions. So at the end of the day, the Gadgets that Ben drools over contribute to the suffering of another culture, but the ill advised comments of a Television host seemingly deserve a public lynching. Wow, you guys are real heroes.

        Nevermind, TVNZ has lost ONE of their THREE gadget people, I wonder how they’ll ever find another person in NZ who knows how to use a laser pointer? At the end of the day, Paul will stay on TV for many years to come. And Ben, well, he’ll be forgotten by next week.

        And yes, this will remain anonymous, because as you’ve clearly proven, anyone who speaks their mind is open for persecution by the ‘Politically Correct’ brigade.

        No thanks.

      2. NotaGracewood,

        Your comment certainly has me thinking.

        What you’ve just written reads very well, and I agree with much of it — especially, but not exclusively: your definitions of racism; the facts about Mr Henry’s non-apparent like or dislike of Indian people and the uncontested fact that “He also NEVER stated at ANY point that he has an intolerance for the Indian people or their culture”, therefore his un-racist nature; and the suggestion that South Asian is not a major ethnic group in New Zealand.

        It’s just a pity the way you have written it comes across as really evil, and shifts the conversation from what people say and do, to what people are — which is exactly the issue at hand.

        Case in point: I’m most surprised by this “Ben will be forgotten” thing. Ben hasn’t done this to get famous, and he has other things to do. If anything, Ben might have done this to make the *topic* famous, which is within his nature. And as you so rightly point out, he’s been one of three bit-piece guests on morning TV. As a family, we’re pretty au fait with popping in and out of the public eye from time to time. So, who cares if Ben is forgotten? Not me.

        What I do care about is open discussion on this topic. And by open discussion, I mean, being able to discuss openly. So:

        If you’re too shit-scared of the “whole Gracewood family” and our [paraphrasing here] awesome, mighty, flaming chariots of epic righteousness to actually sign your name to a point of view you believe in, then that’s your problem. We’re just not that scary.

        But when people accept that a public personality can challenge the viability of *any* person’s fitness for public office — Mr Henry and PM Key were in this case talking about selecting “the next Governor General” based on their appearance not being typical of a “New Zealander”, with Paul’s line of questioning thereby suggesting that there is an acceptable definition of a “New Zealander” that doesn’t include those of Indian descent — that’s our collective problem.

        And that’s the discussion here; not who has a moral stand that is bullshit, or how many Chinese workers are paid a pittance.

        Which brings to mind the good old Confucian notion that “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”.

        Ben might have a way to go in reducing global suffering, but he’s taken a step.

        You could take yours by signing your name.

        Thanks for reading,

        Greg

      3. persecution
        laughs—out—loud
        (sniggers, actually)
        shall i say it??? no, no, i cannot resists!
        NotaG********:harden the phuk up!
        (i know, i know, lack of self control is unbecoming in anyone over three years old…)

  10. Ben you should be ashamed of your self , You are a F******* loser.

    Your had no value anyway so good riddance to bad rubbish.
    I am sure that one day you will realise what a toss you are but too late your Goooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeee

    Thank goodness.

    1. Ah and here is a prime example of the moronic thicko side of our glorious culture.

      Anonymous, illiterate and fully willing to slag off people online.

      Hey you cowardly dickhead, post your name, learn how to use grammar, and fuck right off.

      (and I’m not related to Ben in any way)

  11. I looked up “persecution” in the dictionary. I never knew it was a synonym for “open and reasoned discussion under real name”. Must. Read. More.

  12. Heh, it’s like being on morning telly is the ultimate thing a person can achieve. I can’t wait to see what awesomeness Ben continues to do at other times, in other media.

  13. Robyn says:
    Heh, it’s like being on morning telly is the ultimate thing a person can achieve. I can’t wait to see what awesomeness Ben continues to do at other times, in other media. < Here Here

  14. “anyone who speaks their mind is open for persecution by the ‘Politically Correct’ brigade.”

    It’s a goddamned shame you can’t be a cock under your own name, eh? Maybe Paul Henry can start performing under a stage name like other clowns.

    Also, what Greg Wood said.

  15. weeeelll… it’s true innit? the arseholes will most often front with fake names.

    love your work Ben. there’s more to life than being on the telly – a dead medium largely watched by idiots.

  16. I, for one, Ben, thought what you did was admirable. Too often, we sit back when someone says something that we find discomforting. You chose not to do so, and I applaud you for that. May we all have as much integrity, and the courage of our convictions. And I say this most sincerely: I never knew your Dad but he would be, I am sure, so incredibly proud of the man he raised.

  17. On ya, Ben. Though watching Breakfast was almost like snorting acid-ridden diarrhea, I must say your move was quite the admirable one. I am a ching chong of sorts and while Appauling Henry had me in stitches at his awards speech, there is no excuse for blatant racism.

  18. That’s funny, anyone who speaks their mind is open for perscution by the pro-racism brigade.

  19. Good onya Ben – a small but very personal and significant step. Certainly one which was important enough to be reported all around the world and showed that NZers are not all fuckwits. Bravo

  20. NotaGracewood,

    – “I’ll fully admit, that it was a stupid and moronic thing to say, particularly as Sir Anand Satyanand is a fully fledged New Zealander and a wonderful representative. But in no way did I find it ‘offensive’ or ‘racist’.”

    I agree that Henry’s comments were stupid and moronic. Further, I was not personally offended by the comments either, simply because I don’t take Henry seriously. However, the comments were racist. His comments clearly indicate he thinks that Satyanand somehow does not look and sound like a New Zealander. This supposedly non-New Zealander aspect must be race related. So we have a distinction, based on race, on what counts as being “like” a New Zealander. Then there’s the further suggestion (from Henry’s question to Key) that being “like” a New Zealander should be a condition for the next person appointed as governor general. So the next gov general should not have the qualities that Satyanand had that were not NZ enough for Henry. These qualities are related to race, hence, racial discrimination.

    Consider, also, that if the explanation for the ostensibly racist comments was that Henry had expressed himself poorly, or been misunderstood, he would have easily been able to clarify his non-racist position. He was quickly asked by a reporter why he thought Satyanand did not look and sound like a New Zealander, and he dodged the question. Why?

    – “And yes, this will remain anonymous, because as you’ve clearly proven, anyone who speaks their mind is open for persecution by the ‘Politically Correct’ brigade.”

    Translation: “Paul Henry can be critical of other people; that’s freedom of speech. I can be critical of other people; that’s freedom of speech. But if other people are critical of some of our views, they are persecuting us”.

    Tochigi is right: it’s hard to resist the temptation to tell you to harden the phuck up.

  21. Ben, well done mate. You have ethics in a world where it’s more politic and easier to subsume in order to get by. You’re a proper chap and a better human being that Paul Henry.

  22. Dear TVNZ

    Seeing as you now have an opening, I would like to offer my services as your resident man-child. I know how much you like ‘edgy’ performers who say what we all think in an entertaining yet antagonistic manner.

    Let’s have a look at some possible topics, or segments, I could use tax payer money to do every morning:
    “Non-whites: Why don’t they go back to where they came from?”
    “Who let the women out of the kitchen?”
    “Homosapien, not homosexual”
    “Fun with disabilities” (this one is viewer submitted clips of retards doing dumb things)
    plus many more!

    As you can see I would be a ratings bonanza. In returns I will work for 60% of Mr Henry’s current salary, and you will be relieved to know I do not have any gypsy blood in me.

    Sincerely
    Thomas Lucien

  23. Thank YOU Ben.
    Thank you for your courage and your integity. Your courage to open yourself to public comment and your integrity to know that, and still go ahead with you action.
    Thank you for the example you have set for me, your close and distant family, friends and colleagues.
    You have reminded us that it is OK to take a stand against bullies and to defend others who cannot defend themselves against prejudice.
    Thank you especially for the example to the innocent young ones of our family. They will be better and stronger people, citizens and friends.

    I want to say thank you, also, to the nay sayers (anonymous in the main) who have reminded me how special my family is, how blessed I am that not one of them will ever be asked “Couldn’t you find a friend/partner/colleague who is whiter/less slanty eyed/richer/more handsome/taller/slimmer etc etc etc”. So blessed that everyone they come into contact is valued and respected for themselves and to know they will be accepted into our family.

    Thank you to all the supporters for your words and the way you have not descended into personal, derogatory and hurtful comments. I understand that not everyone thinks like we (Ben’s supporters) do and honour your right to you opinions but I would value your contribution more without the personal abuse and with some intelligent comment. I am sorry that you will never know the comfort that someone ‘has your back,’ or the pleasure that you have someone else’s.

    It goes without saying that I am incredibly proud of my Ben.

  24. Hi, I’m an expat New Zealander living in the States. I’ve been following this story with horror for the past few days, hoping that someone would take some kind of a stand against this garbage. This ‘not a real New Zealander’ crap is scarily similar to the ‘not a real American’ stuff I see emanating from Tea Party types over here. I just want you to know that the stand you’ve made is appreciated by people on the other side of the world. On ya.

  25. I endorse your principled stand against Paul Henry’s racist remarks. I wonder if my part Chinese or part Maori grandchildren would be acceptable to Paul Henry as future Governor – Generals.

    Uncle Kevin

  26. BOO HOO. Paul Henry is a LEGEND. He was not racist – he never explicitly made a racist remark. Ben is a crybaby seeking public attention and failed. Now he’s going to miss multiple mortgage payments. Run along Ben — you are no longer a member of the greatest morning team to ever exist.

    1. lol, I bet Ben get’s offered his job back.

      And, sorry Anon, but who is it that is no longer a member of “the greatest morning team ever to exist”?

      Hmmmmn?

      😉

    2. To the couragously-monikered anon: Are you honestly so dim-witted that you believe that:
      1. Paul Henry’s remarks were *not* racist
      2. Someone as smart, funny, generous and all-round-good as Ben would rely on a 5 minute slot every 3 weeks to make mortgage payments. Ben is a colleague of mine in the city. He has been a peer, a boss, and always someone I’m proud to call friend.

      I strongly encourage you to think twice before spreading bilious, I’ll-conceived rhetoric in the future. Also: good luck flicking through the dictionary so you can understand this response.

  27. @Anon – So it’s alright for anyone to make an implicit racist remark? What a narrow-minded redneck you are.

  28. I was tempted to make that point myself, but decided against arguing with another coward who criticizes people anonymously.

    Also, not that Ben was seeking publicity, but if he “failed”, why is Anon here commenting?

  29. If there’s one thing this whole debacle has highlighted to me it is that approximately forty percent of our population are small minded, racist, at least a little bit stupid and not at all up with the reality of modern New Zealand.

    I’m ok with that as I’m sure in the 1950’s the percentage would have been much higher. In another 50 years it will be lower still. We’re getting there.

    Oh and next time someone is actually stupid enough to use the initialism “PC” in an argument with you please please pleeeease stop them right then and there and get them to define it within the context of what you are discussing. Because you see the people who use “PC” are not very smart. Why you ask? Because if they were smart they would not be parroting a catch-all phrase which is designed to undermine real opinions and beliefs but which doesn’t actually provide any intelligent or even substantial contradiction.

    “Oh I see, you think my belief that racism is wrong is actually a reaction to what I think people would think of me should I reveal I am actually a racist, not that I actually believe racism is wrong? Interestingly that says more about your beliefs than mine, racist. :)”

    Good one Ben, not that I ever watch Breakfast cos I am at or on the way to work but good for you.

    P.S. you must be cool because you are from Papatoetoe (or at least were)

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