Wellington councillor apologises for plagiarism

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 12:19 20/06/2013
john morrison
JOHN MORRISON

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Wellington mayoral candidate John Morrison has apologised unreservedly to the council's new chief executive after coming under scrutiny for plagiarism, admitting he "stuffed up". 

The current city councillor borrowed a handful of phrases from the speech notes of chief executive, Kevin Lavery in an opinion piece published in the Dominion Post last week. 

"I should have credited it and I apologise," Mr Morrison said today.

In the opinion piece Mr Morrison took a strong stance on developing the city's economy. 

But the piece, written as a 'head to head' with incumbent and mayoralty rival Celia Wade-Brown, shares a number of similarities to a speech given to councillors by Mr Lavery earlier in the month.

Where Mr Lavery speech notes read: "We don't want the unadulterated growth of Auckland here in the Capital. We want managed growth, with a growing tax base, allowing us to invest sensibly to make Wellington a real Living City. This is good for business, good for our environment, good for culture, and most importantly good for our people."

Meanwhile Mr Morrison wrote: "We don't want the unruly growth of Auckland; we want managed growth with a growing tax base, allowing us to invest sensibly to make Wellington a really great capital city. This is good for business, good for the environment, good for culture and most importantly good for our people."

Other similarities include:Lavery: "I also want to make sure that 'open for business' is a reality not just a slogan for WCC."

Morrison: "I want to ensure that 'Wellington is Open for Business' is an absolute reality not just a nice slogan slapped on City Council websites and emails."

Lavery: "Unemployment is high at 7.3 per cent, incidentally higher than the area of England I recently left. There are very few cranes on the skyline and growth is at a standstill."

Morrison: "Unemployment is high at 7.3 per cent, there are very few projects on the go in town at present and growth is literally at a complete standstill."

Lavery: "We also need to shift the public debate from grant to investment; from problems to solutions; from dependency to self-sufficiency."

Morrison: "We must shift our focus from dependency to self-sufficiency, from problems to solutions, from hand-outs to investment."

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Today Mr Morrison, who last year voted against appointing Mr Lavery, said he had circled a number of Mr Lavery's paragraphs because he agreed with his direction. 

He had intended to reference them to Mr Lavery, but in trying to meet a deadline that was inadvertently left out.

"It's my fault ... They were really reference points and they ended up in the story.

"I should have accredited directly Mr Lavery's thoughts and I apologise ... It's a good lesson to check it."

He had had a number of conversations with the chief executive and they appeared to share a vision for the city, so he hoped to be able to work with him in the future, he said. 

Ms Wade-Brown said she had thought Mr Morrison's piece was "a little bit similar" and she had written her own words. 

"I'm very pleased that all of the councillors think the new chief executive is so good."

Mr Lavery said Mr Morrison had apologised to him, and he had accepted the apology.

"Let's move on".

Accusations of plagiarism are not new at Wellington City Council. 

Last year Teena Pennington, then the council's director of strategy, planning and urban design, delivered a speech that included borrowed passages from a speech by IBM chief executive Samuel J Palmisano. 

She later apologised and had since left the council.

She now goes by the name Teena Hale Pennington and has been appointed chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Architects. 

- The Dominion Post

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