Treatment of Auckland academics veiled censorship

The treatment of a group of Auckland University professors, who raised concerns about proposed changes to science in the school curriculum is nothing short of veiled censorship, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

Seven professors signed a letter raising concerns about an NCEA working group's proposed changes to the school curriculum that would ensure parity for ‘mātauranga putaiao’ (Māori knowledge) with science and have been widely criticised.

“Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the views of these academics, it is their treatment in the wake of the publication of their views that is of huge concern,” Ms Simmonds says.

“Our universities are legislated to be the critic and conscience of society and are therefore obligated to engage in debates such as this. Freedom of speech is the backbone of our democracy.

“To have these academics reviled and shut down by organisations such as Auckland University and the Tertiary Education Union is a form of censorship which moves us into very dangerous territory.

“History has shown us what happens to countries that control the freedom of speech of academics – we do not want to encourage that kind of suppression in New Zealand.”