'University needs to acknowledge plagiarism issue'

Last updated 09:51 19/11/2009
Witi Ihimaera
Dominion Post
Witi Ihimaera has admitted to plagiarising some parts of his latest novel, The Trowenna Sea.
CK Stead
Dominion Post
Author and Auckland University professor CK Stead has criticised the institution for its response to Ihimaera's plagiarism.

Relevant offers

Education

Climbing to the top, students enjoy new playground Roll growth expected at Auckland's Long Bay College Manawatu pupils stand strong and say no to bullying Big successes for Ara Institute of Canterbury - except with its Maori and Pasifika students Schools will have to pay to keep children safe from predators Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference coming to Waikato in 2019 Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology chief Tony Gray resigns Fidget spinners have become a huge issue at one Waikato school MOE brings transport work in-house Alumni help fund sharp new pinstripe uniforms at Porirua decile 2 school

One of New Zealand's most respected authors has criticised Auckland University for minimising the seriousness of the Witi Ihimaera plagiarism controversy.

Ihimaera admitted tracts of his latest novel, The Trowenna Sea, had drawn on work from other writers without acknowledgement.

He said he was buying back all remaining stock of the novel and planned to republish it.

The edition would contain a new section by the author explaining the background and making full acknowledgement to writers whose work had been drawn on.

"I have taken this step to preserve the mana and integrity of the novel," Ihimaera said yesterday.

"Although I have already made the relevant apologies and have publicly undertaken to fully audit the book myself, it seemed appropriate to remove the first edition immediately and begin working on a corrected second edition."

Ihimaera is a professor of English and distinguished creative fellow in Maori literature at Auckland University.

University dean of arts, Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite, said while concerning, Ihimaera's actions were not deliberate.

Ihimaera said the offending passages amounted to less than half a per cent of the novel, but respected author CK Stead said that was beside the point.

"It's really like saying `well yes I did steal from 16 people but I only took a dollar from each'," he told Radio New Zealand.

"You haven't harmed them much, but you've harmed yourself enormously."

Stead, who is a professor emeritus of the same university, said he was disappointed at comments from Associate Prof Crosthwaite minimising the seriousness of the fault.

He said students had it hammered into them that they must acknowledge borrowed work and not pass work off as their own.

"You reject students' essays for doing this and you fail them in exams for doing it.

"It makes you wonder what the title of a distinguished professor means in the University of Auckland if they then say what Witi Ihimaera has done doesn't matter."

Stead said the situation would reflect badly on the university until professors acknowledged the seriousness of what had happened.

Ihimaera was this week named as one of five Arts Foundation laureates for 2009.

The award gives the recipients a $50,000 no-strings attached donation to celebrate their past achievements and invest in their future.

Ad Feedback

The Arts Foundation said it has had an assurance from Ihimaera that the money would not be used for his book buy-back.

- NZPA

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content