From: “OIA Inbox” <>

To: (Martin Devlin)

Sent: 9/02/2022 1:58:00 PM

Subject: Response to your request for official information (Ref 215245)

Tēnā koe Martin

On 9 December 2022, you requested:

University staff at my former university are now expected or required to adopt tikanga Maori protocols -mihi, waiata and karakia (prayers) at all meetings and occasions, irrespective of whether Maori colleagues are present, and are monitored and measured on their capability in these protocols as a condition of employment. In addition they must also demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and its (undefined) “principles. My own research shows there are at least 13 different lists of “principles” claimed by different organisations, ranging from two to thirteen principles. No two lists are the same. I have been approached by former colleagues asking whether or not they can decline to adopt and to participate in these protocols as a condition of their employment. It is unclear whether individual participation is optional, expected or required. In one instance a colleague declined to attend a meeting until the protocols were finished, only to be branded a racist and non-conformer. It is now clear that to decline to participate in these protocols, or to challenge the introduction of Te Ao Maori views into academic courses, is to invite serious and adverse career outcomes. My reading of the legislation is that it is in breach of our Human Rights legislation to require (or indeed to coerce) a person to adopt or engage in cultural practices not their own. In the wider sense, this approach is called “inverse acculturation” which if coercive (which it clearly is), must breach the Human Rights and Bill of Rights Acts, plus the Education Act on academic freedom?I would appreciate your interpretation and advice regarding this matter, please? 

I have made a similar request to the Tertiary Education Union to provide their policy on this matter, but they are unwilling to respond. 

This request is made under the Official Information Act

The Commission does not consider your request to amount to an Official Information Act 1982 request. Rather, your request seeks “interpretation and advice” from the Commission as regards to whether, a person engaging in cultural practices that are not their own, amounts to a breach of human rights. Accordingly, we are declining your request under s 18(e) of the Act.

As you may be aware, the Commission’s functions do not include making determinations on potential breaches of human rights. Further, the Commission cannot provide you with legal advice, including interpretation of legislation.

If you believe you have faced discrimination or your human rights have been denied, you can lodge a complaint with the Commission online:, over the phone:  0800 496 877, or email:

If you are not satisfied with this response, under the Official Information Act you are entitled to complain to the Ombudsman’s Office. Information about how to make a complaint is available at or on freephone 0800 802 602.

Ngā mihi

OIA team

Apart from refusing to answer a proper request, one notes also the length of time they took. These are supposed to be answered within 20 working days; this useless department took 33 days just to say in effect ‘Stuff off’. —Eds