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Disciplinary actions relating to Hong Kong protest

Freeman Yu made this Official Information request to University of Auckland

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From: Freeman Yu

Dear University of Auckland,

It has been reported today that there had been disciplinary actions relating to the scuffle between Chinese mainland and Hong Kong students on 29 July 2019.

I would like to request the following information in regard to the University’s decision:

1) The overall number of students who have been disciplined by the University;
2) The details of disciplinary actions the University had taken; and
3) All relevant information, to the extent that does not trigger Section 9(2)(a) of the OIA, that the University and its disciplinary board had relied upon for the decision. This include but not limited to any fact the University has discovered through its investigation process, correspondence, comments and any other written, oral or photographic evidence supplied by the parties involved and any third / external parties.

I acknowledge section 9(2)(a) of the Official Information Act 1982 (protection of privacy) must be taken into account by the University when considering this request. However, considering that:

1) The incident itself is not a private matter. It has been widely reported by local and international media and has attracted significant public interest in both New Zealand and overseas;

2) The identity of the student(s) being disciplined have not been publicly reported; Their privacy will remain protected by redacting all personally identifiable information;

3) Disclosing information relating the University’s decision-making process will help enhance New Zealand public’s confidence in the independence of the tertiary institutions, which has recently come under public scrutiny;

4) Disclosing the information will not prejudice any interest of the student(s) involved. Instead their entitlement to natural justice will be better served by releasing the information, as the information currently available in the public domain originated entirely from only one of the parties involved.

5) The incident has also become a matter of public and political debate. Politicians, including the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Education and Act Leader David Seymour have all publicly commented or answered questions relating to this incident. I believe it is in the public interest to have the complete picture and information available in order to facilitate an informed public debate on the issue of academic freedom and more widely, New Zealand’s foreign policy.

I hereby request the University to also take Section 4(a), 4(c) and 9(1) of the OIA into account when considering this request.

Yours faithfully,

Freeman Yu

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From: Rebecca Ewert
University of Auckland

Dear Freeman,


I refer to your email of 16 August 2019. The University response is as


Your request is refused under section 9(2)(a) of the Official Information
Act, to protect the privacy of the relevant persons. In our view, there is
no public interest in disclosure that outweighs the need to withhold this
information under section 9(2)(a) of the Act. In response to your first
point, it should be noted that student discipline matters are private. We
consider that any public interest in the disciplinary outcome has been met
by the University's public statement of 16 August 2019 on the matter. Your
second point is not correct; there has been media reporting of the names
of students involved in the incident - for example, see
We do not accept the claims made in your third, fourth and fifth points
about the public interest in disclosure or a natural justice interest in


You have the right to make a complaint to an Ombudsman about this


Yours sincerely

Rebecca Ewert

General Counsel

University of Auckland


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