Candidate for TEU president, Bill Rogers says it is all about people: whakawhanaungatanga

Posted By TEU on Sep 28, 2018 | 12 comments

The election of a new TEU national president and other elected positions will take place between Monday 8 October 2018 and Friday 19 October 2018. This week’s Tertiary Update profiles the two candidates.

Bill’s priorities for the TEU are a commitment to Te Tiriti and recruitment, closely followed by maintaining and strengthening members’ terms and conditions.

He says that it’s time to improve tertiary education. “With the change of government, we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Now we are in a situation where the TEU is trying to change the tertiary education system. I want to be part of that change.”

Bill has a strong commitment to enhancing Te Tiriti relationships in the union and in TEU workplaces. He wants to help achieve “kotahi mano” Māori membership. “Currently we have about 10,000 TEU members. About 900 identify as Māori. We want to get 1,000 Māori members.”

Bill’s reo skills brought him into the union (“if you have te reo you get shoulder tapped”). He became the co-chair of the TEU NorthTec branch and since then he’s held many roles, including council and executive member, national vice-president Māori and co-chair on Te Tiriti Relationship Group.

It was Bill’s early years growing up in the Matawaia marae area that instilled in him the importance of standing up for the underdog. He studied at Auckland University, School of Architecture and returned north to work as an architect. NorthTec offered him a teaching job and he has been there nearly 20 years. Standing on a platform of “Attitude With Experience”, he says his broad experience of the sector means he will represent both academic and general staff TEU members.

“I’ve been around awhile. My experience is broad. It is all about relationships. I have project managed new buildings and schools. I know how to manage funding, time and people.”

He believes TEU can make a difference in the current political climate. “We’ve seen what the profit driven education system has delivered: cuts in staff numbers, increased workloads, and experienced people leaving. I would like to reverse that trend. Look at what is happening with ITPs. The funding model has to change. One size does not fit all when it comes to funding. Tertiary institutions have a social obligation to support rural communities.”

Bill says maintaining connections with the CTU and international unions is important. He is keen to support NZUSA and student representation on councils: “real representation, not tokenism. That’s important”. His aim is to keep TEU and its members safe and to prioritise Te Tiriti. “Being a union member means well-being, a living wage, support and Te Tiriti across the sector which is a win-win for all.”

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  1. Any candidate worth considering must have an absolute commitment to freedom of academic debate and discourse. You can’t justify banning a speaker just because you disagree with their views.

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    • My aim is to keep TEU and its members safe and to prioritise Te Tiriti. “Being a union member means well-being, a living wage, support and Te Tiriti across the sector which is a win-win for all.”

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      • With the change of government, we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Now we are in a situation where the TEU is trying to change the tertiary education system. I want to be part of that change.”

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  2. Preferable to concentrate on the research, change is needed to get rid of the complicated and energy sapping processes…

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  3. What does keeping “TEU and its members safe and to prioritise Te Tiriti” mean in practice? Do you have an absolute commitment to freedom of academic debate and discourse? Do you think it is appropriate to justify banning a speaker because you disagree with their views?

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    • Kia Ora e Claire,
      Nga mihi ki a koe i te rangi nei.
      Good questions and deserve responding to.

      What does keeping “TEU and its members safe?

      It means protecting the image of the TEU in public.
      When statements and opinions are expressed in the public arena TEU members have to live/respond with/to the consequences of those opinions.
      People will respond to these public opinions based on their “kaupapa being important”
      I think public statements need careful and informed information when published and consideration for others is important.
      It is possible to debate publicly without inciting “over the top” reactions.

      and to prioritise Te Tiriti” mean in practice?

      The Tiriti is embedded in the TEU structure and processes.
      The TEU had a National Conference in May and our institution had a Staff conference recently.
      Feedback from both conferences by participants expressed how well and comfortable both conferences went.
      Both conferences had a balance of Te Tiriti and Pakeha kaupapa in the programmes and you know what? No one was injured in the making of both conferences..

      Do you have an absolute commitment to freedom of academic debate and discourse? Do you think it is appropriate to justify banning a speaker because you disagree with their views

      Of course I believe in freedom of academic debate and discourse. I don’t need section 161 of the Education Act 1989 to accept a role as critic and conscience of society.
      Tertiary Institutions should practice academic freedom and autonomy.
      These institutional attributes are to be preserved and enhanced.

      V O T E F O R B I L L R O G E R S T E U N A T I O N A L P R E S I D E N T ……………..

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      • Thank you, Bill.

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  4. Kia ora Claire and thanks for this question. I posted on my facebook page ( on 20 September saying that I thought that NZ Union of Students’ Associations President Jonathan Gee got it pretty much exactly right on Morning Report that morning. Jonathan was clear that the Massey V-C had breached important principles of free speech and academic freedom.

    Two days later Sandra’s statement came out. I was surprised by the view she expressed and I certainly don’t agree with it. We had a good discussion on this point at a meeting with some members of branch committee at Canterbury University last week where members said that her statement had created something of a furore there. I’ve since heard from others seeking my view, including some of the many TEU members who have vigorously and publicly defended academic freedom on behalf of themselves, their colleagues and their institutions, in the past.

    My position is this:
    • Academic freedom is a moral and legal doctrine that is bright at the centre and clear at the edges. It lies, as one member has put it, at the heart of the academic enterprise. We must stand at the centre of this principle and defend it from encroachment from any angle.
    • It applies equally to students as to staff. Apart from any other reason, that is quite plain in section 161 of the Education Act 1989. We need to stand together with students whenever necessary in defence of academic freedom.
    • With regard to the incident at Massey, the V-C unquestionably infringed the rights of students to ‘question and test received wisdom ’. That right obtains, precisely, within their institution, on its premises and it should not be frustrated in its practical effect.
    • Hate speech is repugnant to all TEU members and is dealt with elsewhere in the law. However, no-one (as far as I know) has claimed that this was the issue in this case.
    • While I absolutely support Prof. Thomas’s commitment to making Massey a te Tiriti led institution – and likewise support our own TEU framework for the implementation of te Tiriti (te Koeke) – there are no principles of Te Tiriti that I am aware of that could be interpreted as qualifying the doctrine of academic freedom.

    Incursions on our academic freedom also include Prof. McCutcheon’s attempts to silence staff speaking out about restructuring or other changes at Auckland University. Part of academic freedom is that Tertiary Institutions must ‘maintain the highest ethical standards and permit public scrutiny … and accountability for the proper use of resoruces allocated to them.’ The university cannot hide within the employment rights and obligations that might, arguably, apply to private companies. If it is to fulfill the role it has accepted as ‘critic and conscience of society’ it must accept a reflexive obligation to be open to scrutiny of its policies and practices. It will radically undermine that role – becoming open to charges of mere hypocrisy – if it seeks to do otherwise.

    I look forward to discussing these issues at meetings with members this week, including at Auckland University this Thursday at 3pm.

    Ngā mihi

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    • Thank you, Michael.

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  5. Thank you for you kōrero Bill. I think it is unfortunate that Michael chose to use your own profile for his campaign. He whakaaro rerekē tēnā.

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