Posted Friday, January 26, 2001

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New Zealand Heerald

Auckland, New Zealand, January 26, 2001

Neo-Nazi scrap nearly drove out varsity man


THE vice-chancellor of Waikato University, Professor Bryan Gould, threatened to resign last year if an inquiry into the enrolment of an alleged neo-Nazi went ahead.

Internal documents obtained by the Herald show the vice-chancellor and his deputies were prepared to step down when the university council voted for an inquiry into the enrolment of Hans-Joachim Kupka, who left his PhD studies after being labelled a neo-Nazi.

Senior staff told the council the resignations could severely weaken the university and pleaded with it to reconsider.

The university council approved the inquiry last August after pressure from the Jewish Association, the university's own law school, the Race Relations Conciliator and staff and students.

But it was forced to drop the idea a month later after a legal opinion said the council acted beyond its power and only Professor Gould could order an inquiry.

In December, Professor Gould announced that a review would be conducted instead by former Ministry of Education chief executive Bill Renwick.

He said he did not like the connotations of an inquiry "that will put people on trial."

Confidential letters to the university's chancellor, Caroline Bennett, from last August showed resignations were pending from Professor Gould, his deputies, Michael Selby and Kaye Turner, and one of his three pro vice-chancellors, David Swain.

Dr Swain said he was "deeply dismayed" at the council's "manifestly substantively wrong decision."

"Should the vice-chancellor resign or his term as vice-chancellor be truncated in any other way in relation to this matter I would not be prepared to continue to serve as pro vice-chancellor. I would resign this role forthwith. I do not take this position lightly."

Professor Turner threatened to resign because the council's vote for an inquiry was against the advice of the vice-chancellor and had caused a rift with the council.

"Council is in my view expressing a lack of confidence not only in the vice-chancellor but also in me."

Eight directors and six of the seven deans also wrote letters supporting the vice-chancellor and expressing their concern at the breakdown in relations between the council and vice-chancellor.

Professor Gould has led the university for seven years. Before that he was a Labour MP in Britain.

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