AROHA PUATA AGAINST THE WAIKATO TIMES

Case Number: 644

Council Meeting: MARCH 1997

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Waikato Times

A complaint by Miss Aroha Puata, president of the Waikato Law Students Association against the Waikato Times has been dismissed by the New Zealand Press Council. Her complaint was over an article published on 8 November 1996 headed “Explaining exam marks will cost students: union head.”

The complaint had two threads; that she was quoted after having been assured she would not be; and that her remarks had been presented as if in opposition to those made by the president of the Students’ Union, Ben King, and used higher in the story.

When considering whether an assurance had been given and then abandoned, not to quote Miss Puata, the Council found no compelling evidence either to prove or disprove the assertion - and therefore found the complaint not proven.

Reviewing the way that Miss Puata’s remarks had been presented, the Press Council said that the published quotes, of Mr King and Miss Puata were not mutually exclusive. Therefore the use by the Waikato Times of the word “disagreed” in the context that Miss Puata and Mr King had differing opinions, was inappropriate and tended to lead the reader to a conclusion not supported by the reported facts. Whilst this was not considered sufficient justification to uphold the complaint, the Council reminded the Times that its readers did not need to be led in this way.