19 Sep 2018

Don Brash calls for 'misleading' university vice-chancellor to consider resigning

3:34 pm on 19 September 2018

Former National Party leader Don Brash is calling for Massey University's vice-chancellor to consider her position, saying it's "almost untenable".

Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas and Don Brash

Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas and Don Brash Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The university prevented Dr Brash from speaking at its Manawatu campus last month.

He was due to give a speech about his time in politics, but vice-chancellor Jan Thomas cancelled the talk for security reasons.

The university had cited a Facebook post on 3 August that linked to the event page and included the comment "take a gun".

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act contain correspondence to and from Professor Thomas in the run-up to the cancellation.

In one email, on 9 July, the vice-chancellor said she did not want a "te tiriti led university to be seen to be endorsing racist behaviours".

On 10 July, Professor Thomas emailed to say she would like to know the options for banning the politics club from holding events on campus.

She said the "racist behaviour of Dr Brash - given te reo is an official language of NZ and we are a tiriti-led university - can't be ignored".

Speaking from China, Dr Brash said he considered Professor Thomas' position almost untenable and told RNZ that he believes she was "totally misleading".

"Quite frankly, I don't know if she can stay in her position."

Dr Brash has previously said he believed it was his views, rather than safety concerns, that led to him being banned from the publicly-funded university.

The documents also contain many emails sent to the university objecting to its cancellation decision.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said Professor Thomas had to go because she had been dishonest and tried to thwart free speech.

The Massey University Students' Association Federation said it was disappointed that Professor Thomas appeared to have misled students and staff.

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