Controversial renaming of Victoria University blocked by Minister

A controversial attempt by the Victoria University Council to rename themselves as as University of Wellington has been blocked by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has declined Victoria University of Wellington Council’s application for a legal name change.

The Council formally made an application to change the institution’s name to the University of Wellington on 27 September 2018.

“I have considered the University’s recommendation and supporting information along with advice received from officials,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Council identified benefits that it considered would follow a name change and its consultation process which, although the subject of some criticism, brought out a wide range of views.

“The Council’s consultation showed that staff were divided on the name change, and there was significant opposition from alumni and students who responded. This opposition is also reflected in surveys conducted by the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association and the VUW Law Students’ Society, and to a lesser extent one from the Tertiary Education Union.

“I also received more than 450 pieces of correspondence on the name change question from students, alumni and others mostly opposed to the name change. Many of these referred to a change.org petition with more than 10,000 signatories listed as opposing the name change.

“While Victoria University of Wellington, like other universities, has significant autonomy in making academic, operational and management decisions, it is accountable to its community and the groups that make up the University.

“I am not convinced that the University engaged sufficiently with the views of those stakeholders who should have their views considered. Given the level of opposition to the University’s recommendation, including by its own staff, students and alumni, I am not persuaded that the recommendation is consistent with the demands of accountability and the national interest.

From what I have seen there had been widespread opposition to the renaming on social media, and the decision of Hipkins has generally been applauded.

I haven’t seen any grizzling about the decision.

“In the interests of transparency, I am releasing the advice I have received to inform my decision on the application for a name change,” Chris Hipkins said.

Good to see a Minister walking the transparency talk.

 

Last ACT annual conference?

ACT has just about disappeared from political sight. The name ‘ACT Party’ may be disappearing altogether. A name change is being considered at the party’s annual conference in Remuera today.

2018 ACT New Zealand – Annual Conference

“Freedom, Choice & Responsibility – Do they exist under this Government?”

The choices you make affect your future and those of the people you care for and support. ACT is the party of choice. The 2018 ACT Annual Conference is being held on Sunday 12 August in Auckland, and you are invited to attend. To answer the question – “Freedom of Choice & Responsibility – Does it exist under this Government?” – our speakers will focus on the economy, business and social reform; we guarantee you’ll be challenged!

  • Briar Lipson – Research Associate, The New Zealand Initiative
  • Lindsay Mitchell – Welfare Reformer
  • Matt Vickers – EOL Care campaigner, husband of the late Lucretia Seales

David Seymour will give the Leader’s Address at 1.00pm. It will be a thought-provoking and stimulating day for all who attend.

Whether the rest of the country will notice let alone find it stimulating is another thing.

According to Audrey Young one thing to be considered is a name change – David Seymour looking to take Act Party back to basics after years of failure

…one of the issues to be debated this weekend is whether to change the party name.

Seymour and president Ruwan Premathilaka are planning a relaunch of the party in March next year and Seymour is billing tomorrow’s conference in Auckland as “a pre-launch of the relaunch.”

The membership had been polled on the future of the party and they have held meetings throughout the country.

“What they have said is they are not angry. They don’t think we have been incompetent or stupid. They think, all things considered, we were pretty organised and campaigned okay.

“But equally they accept that what we have done had been a total failure and we are not going anywhere and therefore we need to do something completely different.”

There was a strong mandate to change the direction of the party, Seymour said.

The only controversial element was what to do about the name.

“If I had a vote for every person that says they like David, this or that policy but they would never vote for Act, I would probably be in Government.”

But will a name change make any difference?

If ACT change their name they are likely to remain approximately as unnoticed as they are now.

Seymour probably has a reasonable chance of remaining as the MP for Remuera, but it will take more than a name change to revive a dying political brand.

Successful politics is reliant on people. ACT need to get electable people more than involved, they need to get them active and noticed.

The reality of politics is that the media will only give them political oxygen if they have people deemed newsworthy. Sadly that doesn’t necessarily mean competent.

We have an enigma in New Zealand politics.

People need publicity if they are to succeed in politics. That means they need to be given significant media exposure, a reality despite the supposed promise of social media revolutions.

Media chose who they give attention to more based on how ‘newsworthy’ they are – but unfortunately in the modern political media era this usually means controversial, which usually means eccentric or appalling or rich, anything that feeds headlines and clicks.

It is unusual for the media to boost someone with genuine talent – as a media made politician Chloe Swarbrick is rare exception.  The voter jury is still undecided (or should be) on whether Jacinda Ardern’s media driven promotion to Prime Minister on whether she can deliver on the hype. Delivering a baby has been a massive distraction, and may make it harder for Ardern to succeed beyond getting ongoing fawning coverage.

Most people chosen by media to be promoted as political prospects turn out to be political failures, or at least disappointments. With media money speaks (or buys their attention and they do the speaking), but it doesn’t necessarily speak the right language to voters, as Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan found out.

So ACT’s biggest challenge is not to apply a new label to a nearly dead party horse.

They need to attract candidates that attract both media attention and party votes.

Or a miracle.

 

 

Victoria, Wellington

Victoria University is considering a name change, it says to avoid confusion with similarly named universities in other parts of the world (including in Victoria University in Melbourne).

It has been suggested it be renamed University of Wellington with some te reo tacked on.

Stuff: Victoria University of Wellington looking to change name to avoid overseas confusion

Victoria University could be renamed the University of Wellington as the tertiary institute tries to eliminate confusion for potential overseas students.

Vice-chancellor professor Grant Guilford said a name change was on the cards to provide “clarity” and avoid other universities taking credit for work done at the Wellington campus.

Hutt South MP and Victoria University alumni Chris Bishop said he initially opposed the idea. However, he understood the university’s reasons for a name change having copped years of confusion while competing overseas with the debating team.

“There’s an emotional connection to the place. There will be people who say that you’re giving up the 100-plus years of a brand and the integrity and credibility behind it.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, who was consulted with on the idea, said it was a good strategic move that he wholeheartedly supported.

Victoria University alumni Ian McKinnon said the name meant “a great deal” to him but he would not stand in the way of change that was supported, and in the best interests of the institute’s future.

Any name change will be put before Education Minister Chris Hipkins to gazette the changes. Hipkins said he could not comment on the potential name change.

It has been pointed out the while ‘Victoria’ is dated and largely irrelevant in modern New Zealand, so is Wellington.

Te Herenga Waka, which translates to the hitching post for your canoe, has been suggested.

That seems like an odd choice.

What about one of the three Māori names for Wellington?

  • Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara – ‘the great harbour of Tara’
  • Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui – ‘the head of the fish of Māui’
  • Pōneke – derived from Port Nick, short for Port Nicholson (refers to the southernmost part of the North Island)

The first two on their own (or tacked on) could also be confusing internationally.

Why not University of Aotearoa?

Currently a Stuff online poll asks: Should Victoria University of Wellington change it’s name?

  • No. It’s sacrilege to change more than 100 years of tradition – 0%
  • Yes. It will stop confusion and focus on Wellington’s global brand – 0%
  • Maybe. But there has to be a better alternative – 100%

But don’t rely too much on online polls, especially when there has been only 1 voter (I had to vote to see the results).

 

 

Members’ Bills ballot

There was a Members’ Bill ballot today. The four drawn were:

  • Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill Hon David Cunliffe
  • Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill Dr Jian Yang
  • Electricity Transparency Bill David Shearer
  • Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) Andrew Little

There’s been issues raised with two of those Bills.

Graeme Edgeler has pointed out a flaw in the Name Change/Child Sex Offender Bill and the Speaker has ruled that the Healthy Homes Bill shouldn’t have been accepted due to similarity with a Bill that failed earlier this year and if it comes up for it’s first reading this year it will be rejected.

Under a law change proposed by National MP Jian Yang, every person convicted of robbery is deemed to be a “child sex offender”.

Edgeler backs up his claim with a link to the bill: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill [PDF 114k]

And to a law it refers to: Parole Act 2002

And a Speakers ruling on the Healthy Homes Bill:

The Speaker David Carter has delivered a ruling on Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2), and its similarity to a previous bill before the House.

The ruling is as follows: “Honourable members, the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) was drawn from the member’s ballot today. The bill has the purpose of ensuring that every rental home meets the minimum standards of heating and insulation. It requires the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to set the standards, and requires the landlords to meet them.

On further study, the purpose and effect of the bill are the same in substance as the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill which was defeated at its first reading on 18 March 2015. Standing Order 264 provides that a bill that is the same in substance as a bill that received or was defeated on its first, second, or third reading may not be proposed. In my opinion, this bill should never have been accepted for the ballot.

Now that the bill has been drawn, I need to find a way forward. The point at which a bill is proposed to the House is when the member in charge moves its first reading. If the first reading of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) is reached in the current calendar year, I will then rule the bill out of order.

However, if it is reached later than that, it will not trigger the prohibition in Standing Order 264, and will be in order. I have asked the Clerk to ensure that bills proposed to go in the ballot are scrutinised more carefully for compliance with Standing Order 264. In future, bills that are the same in substance as ones read or defeated in the same calendar year, will not be permitted into the ballot”.