The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
Professional & Organisational Development Unit
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Bullying and Harassment Prevention

The University recognises that the prevention of bullying and harassment behaviours is a collective effort, requiring the collaboration and co-operation of all members of the University community to ensure that such behaviours are not tolerated.

What is bullying?

Bullying is defined as unreasonable behaviour, repeated over time, which is deliberate and intended to humiliate or undermine the recipient(s), even though it may not be specifically unlawful.

The key features of bullying behaviours are:

  • They are deliberate (the behaviour is intentional and targetted at an individual or individuals);
  • They are unreasonable (the behaviour is not acceptable in the circumstances);
  • They are repeated; and
  • They are perceived to have a detrimental effect on the target (physically, emotionally, financially, or otherwise).

For bullying to have occurred, all four features must be present. For instance, a legitimate workbased request could be deliberate (i.e. purposeful in its intent), repeated, and have a perceived detrimental effect on the target (stress or an emotional response). However it would not be unreasonable since we need to make requests of others in order to get work done. The request does not constitute bullying as not all four features are present.

What is harassment?

Harassment is defined as any unwelcome comment, conduct or gesture that is insulting, intimidating, humiliating, malicious, degrading or offensive. It might be repeated or an isolated incident but it is so significant that it adversely affects someone's performance, contribution or work environment. It can include physical, degrading or threatening behaviour, abuse of power, isolation, discrimination, sexual and/or racial harassment. It is behaviour that is unwanted by the recipient even if the recipient does not tell the harasser that the behaviour is unwanted. It may be unintentional.

Discrimination, sexual harassment and racial harassment are defined in the Human Rights Act 1993. They are unlawful.

What procedures are in place?

Staff who believe they have experienced some form of bullying or harassment should act promptly. They are encouraged to use any of the options outlined below to try to stop and prevent future occurences of the behaviours. The complaints processes are confidential, follow principles of natural justice and procedural fairness, and are designed to protect the integrity and self-esteem of individuals involved.

  1. Initial self-help
  2. Raising a concern
  3. Making a formal complaint – internal University process
  4. Alternative formal complaints processes

Details about each of these options may be found in the Staff Guidelines for Resolving Concerns and Complaints about Bullying and Harassment

The University provides training opportunities for staff on how to deal effectively with behaviours they perceive as bullying or harassment, provides an impartial process for dealing with bullying and harassment, and assists in the resolution of complaints. Our external provider of these services is Out of Court (



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