AUT Chancellor Suggests Co-Chancellor Model to Fulfil te Tiriti Obligations

By Justin Hu (he/him)

AUT’s chancellor has suggested implementing a co-chancellor model on the university’s governing body to fulfil its co-governance obligations under te Tiriti o Waitangi.


Chancellor Rob Campbell wrote that examining co-governance within the university was a “clear responsibility” for the AUT Council.


“People and organisations in Aotearoa/New Zealand are examining the opportunities and challenges which co-governance between tangata whenua and tangata tauiwi offers,” Campbell wrote.


“Any reading of the functions and duties of the university council shows that such examination is our clear responsibility.”


“My thinking on this is driven not simply by the recognition that it is the right thing to do but also by the progress being made in many parts of the public sector.”


The letter was attached as part of an update to the AUT Council at its last meeting in July. In response to Debate’s written questions on the topic, the chancellor added that he had made the proposal following staff consultation on selecting a new vice-chancellor.


“In my recent consultation within the university regarding the selection of a new vice-chancellor, there were strong themes about stronger treaty partnership. Some wanted a co-governance structure at the vice-chancellor level.


“My own view is that the ground is not yet well prepared for this at the executive leadership level, though much positive has been done."


The university’s existing vice-chancellor, Derek McCormack, stepped down from his role in June and will formally leave early next year.


Campbell continued: “There are complications in moving to effective co-governance at senior executive and academic levels. These are a challenge, not a barrier.


“I see establishing co-governance at the chancellor level as much more straightforward and able to give a valuable guide to further work.”


The chancellor also wrote that his views on co-governance were his own, rather than representative of the university’s entire governing body.


“My own view is that there is demand for co-governance [...] It’s more important to do this well than to do it fast, but it has, after all, taken 180 years so far!”


In his update to the AUT Council, Campbell added that he wanted to promote but not lead the discussion on the issue.


“There are many people in the university more competent than [myself] to lead such examination, however, as chancellor it would be wrong for me not to promote this examination,” Campbell wrote.


The role of the chancellor in a university is to focus on the long-term direction of the institution, while the vice-chancellor spends more time working with day-to-day operational issues. As a result of this split, the chancellor chairs the university’s governing body (the AUT Council), while the vice-chancellor instead focuses their time working with the university's senior

management team.