Wananga faces lecture over university claims

By Jonathan Milne

New Zealand's biggest tertiary institution is to get a telling off for falsely calling itself a university.

The Ministry of Education has written to Te Wananga o Aotearoa saying it should not be calling itself "The University of New Zealand" in a new domestic and international advertising campaign.

But indications are that the wananga could get away with its marketing campaign, arguing that "university" is a literal translation of "wananga".

The Vice-Chancellors' Committee has laid a complaint with the Advertising Standards Complaints Board and the education minister demanding the Government do something about the issue.

It comes in the same week that Unitec filed legal action against the Government for refusing to grant it university status.

The University of New Zealand was disestablished and replaced with separate universities in 1962.

National Party leader Don Brash, who graduated with a BA from Canterbury College of the University of New Zealand in 1961, called on the Government to act quickly before people were "grossly misled".

"It seems to be outrageous political correctness that the Government should fail to prevent the wananga from calling itself the University of New Zealand, while Unitec - which has a pretty strong case - is not allowed to call itself a university."

Vice-Chancellors' Committee executive director Lindsay Taiaroa said the wananga's actions were illegal, as "university" was a protected term. "The University of New Zealand used to be a real institution, and many of its graduates are still around," he said.

"Students may be misled and deceived: they may think they are enrolling at a real university.

"If they market themselves overseas, as we understand they are, people will have no way of knowing they're not really a university."

Te Wananga o Aotearoa chief executive Rongo Wetere could not be reached for comment.


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