Academics warned to remain ‘neutral’ ahead of election

The boss of New Zealand’s mega polytech has told all staff – including academics – they are “public servants” and must remain politically neutral ahead of this year’s general election, writes Lee Kenny for Stuff.

The apparent muzzling order from Te Pukenga Chief Executive Peter Winder has prompted a swift backlash, as academic freedom has protection under law. In a statement sent to thousands of staff, Winder said: “As a Crown entity, Te Pukenga and all of our people are public servants. That means we have obligations of confidentiality, neutrality and separating our personal views from professional roles.”

However, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said legislation afforded academics a “different position” in terms of their ability to criticise the government, and that they had a role as “critic and conscience of society”.
Full report on the Stuff site