University of Otago proctor Dave Scott acknowledged this afternoon he was wrong to enter a flat while no-one was home and confiscate bongs.
In a press conference this afternoon, Scott said with the "benefit of hindsight" he was wrong to enter the flat and he would not make the same mistake again.
"I'm a human and I have made an error of judgement on this occasion [and] I've apologised to the flat in question this afternoon for what I did."
"I have made a mistake here and I am willing to learn from it."
He said he had the best interests of students at heart and was trying to deal with the situation without involving police.
Asked if he broke the law, he said he was not above scrutiny and acknowledged he was wrong
"Does that make me a criminal? I don't believe so.
"This was a situation that could have been dealt with differently."
Scott entering Dunedin student flats to take bongs used to smoke cannabis is an "abuse of power", "out of line" and "unacceptable", according to a tenant of one of the flats affected.
Scott, a former police officer, entered student flats in Dunedin and took bongs in what Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) labelled "outrageous" behaviour.
A bong is a water pipe that is commonly used to smoke cannabis or tobacco by filtering burning plant material through water before being inhaled.
The University of Otago is standing behind Scott, despite acknowledging neither he nor the university can claim a right to search private premises.
One of the students who had their bongs confiscated spoke to the Herald anonymously.
The proctor had come around to tell the tenants to clear up a mess outside of their flat and saw the front and back doors were open, the tenant said.
"He closed the one in the front, then walked around back to close the other one. Then he saw the bongs on the table through the glass sliding door."
"He had a meeting with one of our flatmates because we were in trouble for something else, and he be banged the bongs down on his desk and asked, "what is this?""
He took the bongs but told them he wouldn't take it any further.
"No one was home - he just waltzed in and took them. It's pretty out of line. Pretty unacceptable. Like imagine if your work boss did that. Some members of the flat aren't even students at the university."
Members of the flat were more upset about the proctors abuse of power rather than losing the bongs.
"We know what we used them for wasn't right, but two wrongs don't make a right."
The flat members plan to attend a protest of the proctors actions late this week.
Scott's actions have been met with outrage from students, with OUSA recreation officer Josh Smythe launching a petition demanding Scott resign as well as a official condemnation of his methods from the university.
"We feel that he has abused his position of power within our community as the disciplinary representative of the university.
"Imagine never really feeling relaxed in your lounge ever again, wondering if the proctor was about to walk in."
Scott, speaking about the initial incident, judged the occupants of the flat would rather deal with him informally than have the police search the flat so he decided to enter the flat and take the items.
The flatmates were told of what happened and the matter was resolved in a way the university was confident was to their advantage.
The bongs, which the flatmates acknowledged had been used for consuming illegal drugs were destroyed.
Abe Gray, cannabis activist and owner of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum, told the Otago Daily Times he understood correct police procedure would be to send the bongs for forensic testing and establish they had been used for cannabis before prosecuting their owners.
Comment has been sought from police.
The Whakamana Cannabis Museum has offered to sponsor brand new water pipes for the flat.
- additional reporting Otago Daily Times