Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Christchurch campus

Friday, 15 March 2019

UPDATE - 2:15pm Monday 25 March

Dear staff and students,

Last week was a week like no other. I would like to acknowledge all of the staff and students who chose to make each day a tiny bit better for someone else. People across all of our campuses provided support, guidance, baking, flowers, tissues, smiles, hugs - whatever was needed by people in need. The true sign of any community is how they respond in times of challenge; last week, our community stepped up and I thank you.

Over the past week, I have had the privilege of speaking with many of our staff and students. They have shared their own personal experiences and their hopes for the future. Many people I have talked to are looking beyond the next few days and weeks. Many of them have asked me to keep the conversations going, to find new ways of creating a culture of inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance here at Otago.

In February of this year, the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group agreed to a major programme of work, with specialist external support, to review our organisational culture and to design ways to ensure that the University of Otago is a welcoming and supportive place for all members of our community. This initiative is now more important than ever. More information will follow during the middle of the year when staff and students across all of our campuses will have the opportunity to participate and contribute.

As we begin to take our first tentative steps towards a new normal, I would ask everyone to continue to look out for each other. Remember to check in often, ask questions, and provide support to your friends and colleagues. Our collective response to this atrocity must be one of hope - not despair. It must be one of love - not hate or fear. Our Prime Minister and our Muslim brothers and sisters have set the tone for our national response. In my view, we would be very wise to follow their lead.

If you are feeling like you need extra support at this time, here is a reminder of some of the services available for students and staff:

EAP available for all students and staff

No matter where they are in New Zealand, our Employee Assistance Programme counselling is available 24/7 for all staff and students.

Tel 0800 787 286

Prayer room in Christchurch
From Wednesday this week a Prayer Room is opening on the Christchurch campus to be available on an ongoing basis.

Safety Patrol in Dunedin

In Dunedin, Campus Watch is operating its safety patrol 24/7. Students in North Dunedin who feel unsettled can call Campus Watch if they would like to be accompanied home.

The safety patrol number:

Tel 0800 479 5000

Ngā mihi māhana

Professor Harlene Hayne
Vice-Chancellor University of Otago

UPDATE - 3:15pm Tuesday 19 March

Dear staff and students,

Following the tragic events in Christchurch last Friday, several events are being held on the Dunedin campus on Thursday, 21 March. The University is planning a silent march to Forsyth Barr Stadium for all Dunedin staff and students who are attending the 7pm Civic Vigil on Thursday evening. This is our opportunity, as a university community, to walk together in solidarity and silence in support of our Muslim community.

The students from the Colleges will lead us down to the stadium. Behind the students will be all staff, and all other students. I strongly encourage all staff and students to join in. You are welcome to ask your friends and whānau to join us in our silent march.

The march will begin from Memorial Bridge and we walk down Union Street.

Details are:

  • We will be gathering at the University from 5:30pm and leaving at 5:45pm to walk along Union Street to the stadium. The attached map indicates where to line up at the march start.
  • There is a designated space for the University at the stadium and there will be bag searches upon arrival.  This may take some time, which means entry to the stadium may be slow as all bags are screened.  This is why we are gathering at 5:30pm, to make sure that we are all in the stadium so as not to disrupt the vigil proceedings that start promptly at 7pm.
  • We are able to take bottles of water and there will be an opportunity to donate gold coins at the entrance gates. The donations will be distributed locally for immediate financial needs such as travel to Christchurch to support victims and families, mosque maintenance or additional support service.

There is power in numbers, and this is our chance to join together and show our support for the Muslim community. We will stand together as one whānau, and I very much hope that you can join with us.

Silent March Map

We are part of a community that is grieving. I am incredibly proud of the thousands of people in Dunedin who have been sensitive to how other people are feeling right now. Ours is a close-knit city and we are already learning how members of our city community have had family and friends who have been directly affected by this tragedy.  The personal stories that have been shared with me are heart-breaking.

Over the last few days, many of our staff and students have shown an outpouring of kindness to each other.  Our student president, Mr James Heath, and other members of the OUSA executive have shown outstanding leadership and compassion.  Academic and professional staff have reached out providing food, flowers, words, and hugs.  Campus Watch has done what they always do—gently supporting people who need help.  The list goes on and on.

I very much hope to see you all on Thursday, showing what makes Otago truly great—young people with big brains and huge hearts who care about others.

Ongoing support

As we are all coming to terms with what has happened in Christchurch, here is a reminder of some of the services available for students and staff who would like some extra support:

Safety Patrol in Dunedin

In Dunedin, Campus Watch is operating its safety patrol 24/7. Students in North Dunedin who feel unsettled can call Campus Watch if they would like to be accompanied home.

The safety patrol number:

Tel 0800 479 5000

Employee Assistance Programme available for all students and staff

No matter where they are in New Zealand, our Employee Assistance Programme counselling is available 24/7 for all staff and students.

Tel 0800 787 286

Drop-In Centre open today – Dunedin campus

We recognise that some of our staff and students might be feeling unsettled at this time. In recognition of this, we have organised a drop-in centre for anyone who would like to come and share a space with other staff and students. The drop-in centre is in the Union Common Room (Dunedin campus). Staff and students will be on hand to talk. All are welcome.

Other events on Thursday

We will continue to post updates for you here. There will be posts on other events occurring on Thursday at the Dunedin campus.

These include a public lecture by the Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt. He is speaking in the Union Hall.

Soon after, OUSA have a vigil with the Otago Muslim Students’ Association at 1:00pm, also at the Dunedin campus. 

Everyone is welcome to take part in these events.
 
Ngā mihi māhana

Professor Harlene Hayne
Vice-Chancellor University of Otago​


UPDATE - 11:30am Monday 18 March

Drop In Centre open today – Dunedin Campus

We recognise that some of our staff and students might be feeling unsettled at this time. In recognition of this, we have organised a drop in centre for anyone who would like to come and share a space with other staff and students.

The drop in centre is available from today in the Union Common Room (Dunedin Campus). Staff and students will be on hand to talk to anyone. All are welcome.

UPDATE - 12:00pm Sunday 17 March

Dear staff and students,

At this stage, we are only beginning to come to terms with the tragic shootings in Christchurch on Friday. My heart goes out to all members of the Muslim community, including members of the University’s Muslim Association. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim community with love and support.

Thankfully, all of our staff and students on the Christchurch campus are safe, but this is a very small country with a close-knit community and everyone will undoubtedly know someone who has been deeply affected by this atrocity.

I think that this is a good time for all of us to reflect on what we stand for at the University of Otago. Whether you or your whānau arrived on a waka 850 years ago or in an airplane last week, you are welcome here. We are a community that embraces people of all cultures, of all religions, and of all sexual orientations and identities. We have no tolerance for prejudice of any kind. We celebrate diversity and freedom in Aotearoa. We stand together as one whānau .

I am extremely proud of the way in which Otago staff and students have responded over the last few days, showing outstanding leadership and kindness to each other and to the wider communities in which they live. The healing process will take time, but I am confident that we will get through it together.

There is specific support and assistance available at our Christchurch campus. This includes a drop-in place at the main campus. Senior staff members will be in Room 710 throughout tomorrow (Monday). David Murdoch, Dean of University of Otago, Christchurch, and the senior leadership team have written to all Christchurch staff and students with further details of many other support services available to staff and students.

In Dunedin, Campus Watch is operating its safety patrol 24/7. Students in North Dunedin who feel unsettled can call Campus Watch if they would like to be accompanied home. The safety patrol can be reached on 08004795000

No matter where they are in New Zealand our EAP counselling is available 24/7 for all staff and students Ph 0800787286.

Please check in with each other, and take care of each other in days ahead. I will stay in touch.

Ngā mihi māhana

Professor Harlene Hayne
Vice-Chancellor University of Otago

UPDATE - 6:50pm Friday 15 March

Message from Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne

Staff and students are now allowed to leave the University of Otago, Christchurch campus building in Riccarton Ave, following the tragedy and shootings in the city. We believe that all our students and staff in Christchurch are safe and accounted for, but we also recognise that students and staff may have friends and family that are not yet accounted for in the wider city. An emergency has been declared on the Christchurch Campus of the University of Otago, and the campus was in lock-down for most of the afternoon as events unfolded. That lock-down has now lifted and staff and students are now able to return home.

Please stay in touch with your colleagues and friends, and take care of each other in the coming days ahead. For those requiring extra support, our EAP counselling is available now, and 24/7 over the weekend for all staff and students who need support: Ph 0800787286. Our thoughts from all of us at the University of Otago continue to be with you at this tragic time. The University will be back in touch with further communications as required.

Ngā mihi māhana

Professor Harlene Hayne
Vice-Chancellor, University of Otago

Update - 4:50pm Friday 15 March

Tēnā Koutou

Our thoughts and deepest sympathies have been conveyed to our Christchurch colleagues and students in light of the disturbing and tragic events in Christchurch this afternoon. We believe that all our students and staff in Christchurch are safe and accounted for, but we also recognise that students and staff may have friends and family that are not yet accounted for in the wider city. An emergency has been declared on the Christchurch Campus of the University of Otago, and the campus has been in lock-down as it is close to events that have unfolded.

Please stay in touch and take care of each other. For those requiring extra support, our EAP counselling is available now and 24/7 over the weekend for all staff and students who need support Ph 0800787286.

The University will be back in touch with further communications as required.

Ngā mihi māhana
Professor Harlene Hayne
Vice-Chancellor University of Otago

For more information, contact:

Mark Hathaway
Senior Communications Adviser
Mob 021 279 5016
Email mark.hathaway@otago.ac.nz