University dean of arts, Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite, said while concerning, Ihimaera’s actions were not deliberate.
Ihimaera said the offending passages amounted to less than half a per cent of the novel, but respected author CK Stead said that was beside the point.
‘It’s really like saying `well yes I did steal from 16 people but I only took a dollar from each’,’ he told Radio New Zealand.
‘You haven’t harmed them much, but you’ve harmed yourself enormously.’
Stead, who is a professor emeritus of the same university, said he was disappointed at comments from Associate Prof Crosthwaite minimising the seriousness of the fault.
He said students had it hammered into them that they must acknowledge borrowed work and not pass work off as their own.
‘You reject students’ essays for doing this and you fail them in exams for doing it.
‘It makes you wonder what the title of a distinguished professor means in the University of Auckland if they then say what Witi Ihimaera has done doesn’t matter.’
“Ihimaera’s actions were not deliberate” — oh really? I would be interested in hearing the justification for this bold statement.*
Methinks the Jolisa Greenwood “insufficiently digested” expression says it much better.
And Stead is right about the message to students — it’s a poor example — and the plagiarism stigma attaching to other academics associated with Auckland University.
Things like this erode credibility.
* Update: I see my old workmate Paul Holmes has already spluttered incredulously about this ‘not deliberate’ thought:
Excuse me? How do you plagiarise in a way that is not deliberate? How do you plagiarise by accident? If you have plagiarised, presumably you had the other author’s work next to you as you typed, knowing you were using another person’s sentences.
How do you do that unconsciously?
— Paul Holmes: An author’s greatest sin Herald on Sunday