SRC Gags Discussions on Te Ara Poutama Faculty Rep Departure

By Justin Wong (he/him)

The South Campus Representative at AUTSA’s Student Representative Council (SRC) has been revealed to be behind allegations leading to a colleague’s resignation – but any further discussions on the matter have been quashed.


Former Te Ara Poutama Faculty Representative Tasha Tahā Henneker quit early May, after denying claims she “hounded” other members to sign a petition to remove AUTSA General Manager Simon Bell from the student association’s Governance Board, despite him not being a member.


In her resignation letter, Henneker said it was in her best interest “not to be part of a community that would place false allegations with no clarification on an individual”.


She told Debate in June her departure was forced by “false allegations”, and criticised AUTSA as “a lot of lip service” with senior officials being unresponsive.


Minutes from the SRC’s monthly meeting on May 17, released days after Debate published Henneker’s comments and more than a month later than its targeted deadline, showed the allegations were raised by South Campus Representative Kalen Chase.


However, they did not offer further details on how Chase came across the alleged information or when he notified AUTSA President Sisifa Lui.


Lui confirmed at the meeting that no petition was brought to her, but said she cannot rule out the chances of one having been in existence or circulation because Henneker declined mediation on the issue and resigned afterward.


“We can close the topic but not resolve it”, she said.


A motion to shut down any further discussions around the resignation was then passed, with only Disability Affairs Officer Margaret Fowlie voting against.


Chase has not responded to Debate’s multiple requests for a comment or interview on the reasons for bringing up the allegations, while Lui has not responded to Debate’s questions on Chase’s role in Ms Henneker’s departure and the motion to close discussion on the saga.


The minutes also show the SRC is still struggling to fill the North Campus Accommodation Officer role, with it being vacant for the majority of Semester 1.


AUTSA described the role as to liaise with students and keep the SRC “informed of their perspectives and relevant issues”.


Lucy Li was elected into the position for 2021 at elections last year but never participated in any SRC meetings.


Debate understands Li has not been in contact with AUTSA since her election, which led to the position being left vacant. The SRC conceded at the May meeting the position is available for any student who wants to take the role, but the vacancy is not impeding the SRC’s operation.


“It is the responsibility of both operational staff and SRC to figure out how we can navigate that space”, the minutes said, and discussions on the topic “will be parked for now”.


The SRC was also told that concerns were raised over the behaviour of its members.


In her report, Lui said there were talks of a lack of respect at the last meeting in April between members and Chair, Vice President Community Amandeep Singh.


She did not provide more details, but concluded the situation needs to be changed and a code of conduct will be created for the SRC.


She also said respect also needs to be shown from SRC members to AUTSA operational staff by giving them adequate notice for events.


“It is difficult to take on AUT when there is conflict or miscommunication going on in the background.


“If you do not agree with a SRC member’s appointment to a board, you need to talk to Sisifa.


“The most important thing is that the SRC presents a unified front.”


Lui has been approached for comment for more details on the code of conduct and questions around members’ behaviour.