Findings of the independent review into public claims of racism at the University of Waikato released today

25 September 2020

Specific claims not supported, but the need for transformational change clearly articulated

The reviewers commissioned to assess public claims of racism at the University of Waikato have presented their final report to the University Council.

Sir Harawira Gardiner and Hon Hekia Parata had full access to all University files relevant to the issues raised, held individual and group meetings with 80 people and received 96 submissions. The report is being released in full by the University today.

The Parata Gardiner report finds that specific claims against the University made in the Protected Disclosure to the Secretary for Education dated 29 May 2020, and provided to the media by its signatories, are “incorrect, inaccurate, or reflect differing perspectives or opinions”. On the basis of these findings and their own investigation of evidence relating to the claims made in the public domain, the University Council expressed its full confidence in the Vice-Chancellor and management of the University.

However, the report finds that because New Zealand’s public institutions, including universities, are founded in our settlement history and adhere to western university traditions and cultures, there is a case for structural, systemic, and casual discrimination at the University of Waikato.

The report says that “a number of positive initiatives have been taken by University leadership as part of a Te Ao Māori commitment” but that “the good intent of individuals and groups are insufficient to redress this situation”. The reviewers note that their report should be the start of a process of ongoing engagement with “urgent and serious action, in pursuit of not just improvement, but transformation.”

In unanimously agreeing to the recommendations in the report, the University Council thanked the Reviewers for completing an extremely helpful report in a very short time frame. The Council has supported the recommendation for engagement in a future-focused process to determine how to apply Te Tiriti as the basis for a bicultural platform for the University, and for refreshed relationships with key iwi stakeholders. The full list of resolutions made by the University Council on the report can be found here.

The transformation process is to begin with the establishment of a taskforce that will develop a plan of action to address the issues raised, which will follow a consultative process with full resources to support its implementation. The taskforce will be co-chaired by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones.

Professor Tuhiwai Smith is an international leader and authority in Indigenous Studies and kaupapa Māori education. Professor Jones is an internationally recognised university leader with a deep understanding and experience of the University of Waikato.

The taskforce will operate over the next three months, with implementation projects to follow in 2021.  The timeframe will also provide scope for ongoing consultation with the University community and external stakeholders.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley, says:

“The findings of the report and the establishment of the taskforce present the University with an opportunity to consider how to address these structural and systemic issues of discrimination and racism.

“We genuinely embrace the opportunity for transformational change and to embed Mātauranga Māori more deeply in the University. We thank the many students, staff and stakeholders who have expressed concern and support for the University, and acknowledge the resilience that the University community has shown in the face of adversity.”

Latest stories

Related stories

Algae to economics: academic promotions announced

The University of Waikato has announced its latest round of academic promotions.

Ngareta Timutimu awarded prestigious University Medal

The University of Waikato has awarded its prestigious University Medal to Ngareta Timutimu (MNZM) recognising…

Te Maiea o te Rangi; the sun rises on a new opportunity for te reo

A new opportunity to take te reo to the world has risen at the University…

Māori student achievement recognised at annual awards

The Ngā Tohu Toi Hau Awards for Māori student achievement were held on Saturday, with…

Seven scholarships announced on Kīngitanga Day support rangatahi and the environment

Seven University of Waikato undergraduate students have been awarded the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu…

Wānanga works to carve a pathway for Māori Artificial Intelligence

A hui that brought together Artificial Intelligence experts from all over around the motu has…

Shining light on the potential of indigenous research, science and innovation

University of Waikato welcomes yesterday’s announcement of the government’s investment in Māori research, science and…

Three new professors announced

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley has today shared the appointment of some distinguished…

Indigenous birthing knowledge the focus of Fulbright research

Nikki Barrett is locking down the detail for her Fulbright-Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Graduate…

Matariki stargazing in Hamilton

Celebrating Matariki at Waikato

The University of Waikato has celebrated Matariki with a number of public and staff events…

Where’s your Mauri Tau?

A lack of resources and a longing for whānau connection were the impetus behind a…

Waikato event connects to COP26 and climate change crisis

The climate change crisis is something that keeps Associate Professor Tom Roa awake at night.