Media, Public Communication and Statements Policy


All members of the University


To guide members when commenting publicly, including to the media


1. Members of the University may comment publicly in one of four roles:

a) As an academic commenting publicly on a matter related to their academic area of research and expertise and their role at the University
b) As  an  official  of  the  University or  delegate of  the  Chancellor or  Vice- Chancellor representing the official view of  the University itself
c) As an expert, other than covered in item 1a above, with specific delegated authority to comment publicly on a matter related to their area of expertise, or
d) As a private individual commenting publicly about matters not related to their area of expertise and/or their role at the University

2. Whenever commenting publicly, members must specifically consider the role in which they are commenting at the time and identify that role clearly to the recipients of the communication.

Commenting as an academic staff member:
3. The University recognises and supports the principle of academic freedom which in relation to this policy is defined in section 161(a) of the Education Act 1989 as “the freedom of academic staff and students, within the law, to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions”.

4. On matters related to their academic area of research and expertise, academic staff members are encouraged to:

  • make statements to the media
  • respond to media queries
  • make public statements

provided it is made clear that such statements or communications reflect their academic view rather than representing an official University position.

5. Such communications must be within the law and implicitly, or preferably explicitly, refer to their recognised academic area of research and expertise

6. Except when responding to media queries, academic staff are to work with the University’s Communication Office with respect to media-related activities as outlined in items 17-18 below

7. Where the staff member and/or the Communications Office is unsure of the legality of any intended communication then the General Counsel is to be consulted prior to issuing the communication

Representing the University

9. Only the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor or members of the University authorised by the Vice-Chancellor may represent the University’s position on any matter

Commenting as an expert member

8. Items 6 -7 above also apply to members communicating in the role of an expert

10. Except as provided for under item 4, only members with specific delegated authority may comment publicly as an expert member.

11. On matters related to their area of expertise, and in accordance with their specific delegated authority, those members are encouraged to:

  • make statements to the media
  • respond to media queries
  • make public statements

provided it is made clear that such statements or communications reflect their expert view rather than representing an official University position.

Commenting in a private capacity

12. When commenting in a private capacity a member must not include any material that may suggest that their communication relates to their role at the University.

13. Particular care must be taken in using any University email or web address when communicating in a private capacity to ensure there is no perception that such communications are being made on behalf of the University.

14. A University title or honorific is not to be used where a member is making a comment or communication in their private capacity.

15. This also applies to any member of staff undertaking private consulting that is not part of their role at the University or is not contracted through the University or Auckland UniServices Ltd.

16. When communicating in their private capacity, members must not use University stationery or sign offs whether electronic or otherwise or use University property as a backdrop for filming or photographic purposes.

Note: All members should be aware that any communication through the University network may be required to be disclosed in response to a request for information under the Official Information Act or as part of the discovery process in legal proceedings.

Media liaison

17. The University’s Communications Office is responsible for the writing, approval and distribution of all University media releases, as well as liaising with relevant journalists, and is available to assist with media liaison.

18. Staff members who have established good working relationships with the media within their areas of expertise are encouraged to use these contacts to foster further community engagement with the University.

Note: Staff members who have media contact which has not been initiated by the Communications Office, are asked to advise the Office, so it can ensure any follow-up media enquiries are managed in a timely and constructive manner thus optimising the University's media

19. Staff members who are in contact with the media in their role as an academic or other expert should, to the best of their ability, ensure the University is mentioned, featured or otherwise acknowledged.

20. Members who become aware of issues or potential issues that could lead to adverse commentary about the University or impact the University’s reputation negatively must contact the Communications Office as soon as possible.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Commenting includes all forms of communication that could be reasonably regarded as being in the public domain. This includes all forms of electronic communications and social media.

Members includes all members of the Council, and of all University committees, staff members, board members or trustees, independent contractors to the University, adjunct and visiting staff,
visiting scholars and interns, emeritus professors and any other persons providing services to the University.

Specific Delegated Authority means a specific authority in writing by the member’s Academic Head or line manager. The authority may be event-specific (for example to authorise a conference presentation) or enduring (for example to authorise a subject-matter expert to respond to media queries on an ongoing basis).

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.
University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

University stationery includes University letterheads, paper, business cards, envelopes and signature blocks, whether electronic or hardcopy forms.

Key relevant documents

The following link is to a resource available to staff only.

Document management and control

Content manager: Communications Manager
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Operations) and Registrar
Approved by:
Date approved: March 2018   
Review date: 31 March 2023