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Source: University of Otago

Friday 18 December 2020 9:01am
Last updated 18 December 9:00am
University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne is pleased that Police have made an arrest in relation to the security threat that led to the postponement of graduation ceremonies this month.Southern District Police Commander Superintendent Paul Basham has announced this morning that a 22-year-old woman has been charged with threatening harm to people or property. She is due to appear in the Auckland District Court today.“I am relieved there has been an arrest in relation to the security threat,” Professor Hayne says.“I am extremely disappointed that these actions resulted in graduation ceremonies for more than two and a-half thousand graduands and their whānau being postponed.“Unfortunately, it is too late to change arrangements for tomorrow’s graduations which are postponed; however, we have many on-campus celebrations planned and I hope graduands and their supporters will join us to celebrate their academic achievements.”Despite the fact the University had to postpone eight graduation ceremonies, Professor Hayne says a silver lining has been the way in which the University, graduands and their supporters have joined together to celebrate in a less formal way.“I have been delighted to see the way that graduands and their families, friends and flatmates have overcome this disappointment and continued to take the opportunity to celebrate, marking their achievements in their own very personal ways.“The manaakitanga of the student and Dunedin community has come to the fore and I know that everyone made the most of their special time here on campus.  I wish all of this year’s graduates nothing but the best and I thank them for their understanding and patience.”Professor Hayne says the University is hugely appreciative of the Police who have worked tirelessly to achieve a result.“We are extremely grateful to the Police for their hard work, expert guidance and support.”Because the matter is going before the court, Professor Hayne is unable to provide any further comment in relation to the case.
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Liane Topham-KindleyManager, Media EngagementTel +64 21 279 9065Email liane.topham-kindley@otago.ac.nz
Mark HathawaySenior Communications AdviserTel +64 21 279 5016Email mark.hathaway@otago.ac.nz
Archive
14 December 2020, 3:30pm
The University of Otago is postponing all of this week’s graduation ceremonies and parades following a security threat early last week.Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne explains the University is continuing to work closely with Police as they conduct an investigation and a decision has been made this afternoon to postpone four graduation ceremonies planned for Wednesday 16 December and Saturday 19 December.“I know this is a further disappointment at the end of a year that has been more difficult than most.” Professor Hayne says.“In the wake of COVID-19, our students have overcome huge obstacles to stay on track and complete their degrees this year. Moreover, many of our students and their whānau have made significant sacrifices to travel to Dunedin so they could be a part of these very special celebrations.“I share in the disappointment that everyone is feeling. However, I have every confidence that our graduands will find ways to celebrate.”All associated graduation events planned to take place on campus are able to continue. Graduands will be able to pick up their certificates and details about this will be sent directly to graduands.Professor Hayne says that despite the disappointment of last week’s graduation postponements, graduates have continued to celebrate their achievements with large numbers on campus last week and on Saturday.“I have seen many, many examples of the true Otago spirit as people took the opportunity to celebrate, marking their achievements in their own very personal ways. They have demonstrated these characteristics throughout this year and their response to the graduation postponements is just another example of how truly remarkable they are.”For those graduands who choose not to come to Dunedin this week, or who wish to take part in a full ceremony at a later time, the University is planning opportunities for this in 2021.Professor Hayne paid tribute to the Police who continue to investigate the security threat. “Police continue to take this threat very seriously and we are grateful for their support and expert guidance.”
11 December 2020, 10:50am
Following Police advice, the University of Otago has decided that graduation ceremonies and parades tomorrow (Saturday 12 December) will not go ahead.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne acknowledges this will be incredibly disappointing for everyone who has made plans.
“My heart goes out to you all. This has been a difficult decision and I hope that you will find ways to celebrate,” Professor Hayne says.
“The depth of feeling has been only too real over the previous few days. No one deserved this, particularly the young people from the University and Polytech who were expecting to celebrate their graduations at the Town Hall this week.”
Police have advised that all on-campus events are able to continue. This includes all graduation events like Māori pre-graduation, which will go ahead. Graduands will be able to pick up their certificates and details about this will be sent directly to graduands.
As is the case with Wednesday’s graduations that were postponed, the University will plan for a replacement ceremony for tomorrow’s graduations for 2021.
Currently, next week’s graduations ceremonies on Wednesday 16 December and Saturday 19 December will go ahead as planned.
Professor Hayne says the one “huge positive” she is taking away from this week is the incredible strength and resilience of the tertiary community in North Dunedin.
“In particular, the students have been incredibly magnanimous and have taken care of each other and their friends and whānau. They certainly didn’t let the horrible situation stop them from celebrating their special day in a very Otago way. The manaakitanga and creative improvisation in how they chose to celebrate is unique to our community here in Dunedin.
“I would like to acknowledge the Police. Their community support and expert guidance has been excellent, and I cannot thank them enough. We will continue to work with the Police. As you will understand, I cannot comment on any matters related to this ongoing case.”
10 December 2020, 5:15pm
The University of Otago is continuing to work closely with Police regarding the security threat to its graduation ceremonies and is hopeful it will be able to continue with Saturday’s ceremonies as planned.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the University will advise graduands as to whether Saturday’s ceremonies will proceed by early afternoon tomorrow, Friday 11 December.
“It was with deep regret that the University announced the postponements of yesterday’s graduation ceremonies and associated events due to a security threat.
“We are continuing to work closely with Police on this matter, and are hopeful that we may still be able to continue with our planned graduation ceremonies this Saturday.”
Professor Hayne says the University acknowledges there will be some graduands and their families who need to make a decision before noon tomorrow and accepts some changes may have to be made.
“If you decide not to attend the ceremony now, please let us know and we will give you the opportunity to participate in a special ceremony in 2021. This is not fully planned yet, but scheduling details will be known and communicated in due course.”
9 December 2020, 4:45pm
We are still working through possible alternative arrangements to allow you to celebrate your graduation in person. Given some uncertainty around Saturday ceremonies, and existing travel arrangements for many of our visitors, a replacement ceremony will not be arranged for this weekend. Instead, we will look to organise an additional event or events in the New Year.
Due to COVID‑19 based cancellations, an additional graduation date has already been scheduled for 2021 and this gives us some flexibility around planning. Further information will follow about alternative ceremonies in due course.
It is important to note that your graduation today will not impact on your ability to participate in a ceremony at a later date. The 1pm ceremony on Wednesday, 9 December was planned for graduates from May who missed their in-person graduation due to COVID‑19.
Similarly, we will be able to provide a future ceremony for today’s graduates, which will have all the features of a standard ceremony, including formal capping by the Chancellor. The same opportunity will be available again for those who missed today’s 1pm ceremony.
Regalia can be returned to the Academic Dress rooms (where you collected your regalia) until 9pm tonight Wednesday, 9 December and then tomorrow from 9am to 2pm Thursday, 10 December.
Again, we share your disappointment in today’s postponement. However, we are also extremely proud of your achievements as part of our Otago community.
9 December 2020, 11:15am
It is with deep regret the University of Otago announces it is postponing today’s graduation ceremonies and associated events due to a security threat.
Earlier this week the University electronically received a threat to its upcoming graduation ceremonies. Today, two graduations were planned to go ahead at 1pm and 4pm.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne explains the University has received the threat that centred on graduation ceremonies.
“The safety of everyone who is planning to attend the ceremonies and the wider Dunedin community is at the heart of this difficult decision. The Police have strongly recommended that the graduation ceremonies scheduled for today are postponed and we support their recommendation,” Professor Hayne says.
“We realise this will be incredibly distressing to everyone who was planning to take part in the ceremonies in person. For many, this was the replacement ceremony because of previous cancellations due to COVID‑ 19. We share your disappointment,”
Currently, graduation ceremonies planned for Saturday and next week are scheduled to go ahead.
Professor Hayne says the University will continue to work with the Police and other authorities as they investigate the threat.
All graduands will receive information from the University as quickly as possible about future plans. Updates will be posted on our website www.otago.ac.nz.
Anyone who can assist Police with information relating to this matter is asked to call 105 and reference file number 201208/6592. Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A media standup will be held at 12 noon today outside the Dunedin Central Police Station where Professor Hayne and Police Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham will speak. We will be unable to respond to any media queries prior to this.
Media standup downloads – 9 December 2020

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