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To all TEU members at Massey University for information

Kia ora koutou,

My criticism of the Vice-Chancellor is about how she handled the cancellation of a recent politics club event. Clearly, it could have been handled a great deal better than what has been revealed in recently published emails.

For starters, the Vice-Chancellor should have spoken to those involved, including students, and worked collectively to find a solution to what is a complicated issue, one that evidently played on her conscience. She also should not have floated the idea of withholding funds from student bodies as a way of exerting influence. Such steps are not be acceptable in any circumstances.

What’s most regrettable though, is that the Vice-Chancellor did not just come out and say that anyone failing to respect the values of Massey University, particularly its obligations as a Te Tiriti led organisation, is not welcome to share those views on campus. Yes, they are free to speak their mind elsewhere, but not at any public institution that prides itself on rejecting the sort of loathsome, race-based views propagated by Hobson’s Pledge. Had she done that, she would have had my backing.

That is because the Tertiary Education Union Te Hautū Kahurangi is also a Te Tiriti led organisation. We take our obligations extremely seriously and, as national president, I am constantly looking at ways to improve the way our organisation is run in order to uphold the values expressed in Te Tiriti. Should meetings or events be organised that are not compatible with these values, then I would have every right to say they should not happen under the banner of the TEU. This would not be in violation of free speech, because the organisers of said event would be entitled to air their views elsewhere. Instead, it would be a strong statement of what our organisation stands for.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi promotes a set of values that must become an integral part of how we behave as New Zealanders, and how our public institutions are run. We must continue working for a future where these values are upheld and strengthened by our right to free speech – and a future where showing leadership by putting the values of a public organisation ahead of the out-dated, contemptible views of one person, is seen as the right thing to do.

With that in mind, let’s start focusing on how good it is to see the seriousness with which the Vice-Chancellor takes the responsibilities that result from actively acknowledging Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the foundation for the relationship between Māori and the Crown. I only wish she could have stuck to this position publicly at the time this debacle first surfaced.

The views the Vice-Chancellor was seeking to keep off campus have no place in Aotearoa New Zealand. They should not be encouraged, respected, nor accepted, especially not under the banner of free speech. All public institutions should take the advice of the Human Rights Commission and give nothing to racism.

Sandra Grey
National President

Authorised by Sharn Riggs, TEU, Level 8, 178 Willis St, Wellington

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Tertiary Education Union · PO Box 11767 · Wellington, Wellington 6142 · New Zealand