The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

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2005 Index 1 (Jan-Mar)

(Book news, reviews and literary events from New Zealand)

March 21 2005

Examined, not honorary
Filed by Chris


If you flicked through the papers at the weekend, you probably read about the spat between author Lynley Hood and Creative New Zealand. According to the Sunday Star Times,

The government arts agency is destroying hundreds of CD-Roms about New Zealand writers - and asking those who have already received them to destroy their copies after Dunedin author Lynley Hood threatened legal action.

She was upset her profile said her Otago University doctorate was honorary, when in fact it was an examined degree.

Hood has been criticised by other writers on Creative NZ’s The new word CD-Rom, who accuse her of vanity and paranoia. Reissuing the CD will cost up to $5000.

But according to today’s NZPA report in the NZ Herald

… she rejected claims that she had threatened to take legal action against Creative New Zealand, which is responsible for the error.

Hood is best known as the author of A City Possessed - The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case, which hit the bestseller list in 2001. A quick recce of Hood’s own website throws this up:

In 2003 I was awarded a Doctorate of Literature (earned, not honorary) by the University of Otago for ‘published contributions of special excellence in literary, social and historical knowledge’.

A sidebar on her site says ‘last updated 2 Dec 2002’ - and a quick check of Google’s cache shows that the ‘earned, not honorary’ bit has been there a while.

Now, what’s really going on here? We have a feeling that there’s more to this storm in a LittD cup than meets the eye …

Followup comments

March 22 2005
Comment by Islander

I have had a deal of trouble connecting to this website over this matter so i can see why Lynley is saying paranoia (a condition of which she isnt afflicted by.)

I am bothered by the screeches from Wellington people over this; CNZ has made a mistake, should acknowledge this, destroy the CDs, and that will be that.

I am annoyed that I have never received a copy of the CD (so I’ve never had a chance to proofread it.0

March 22 2005
Comment by Brian

Lynley Hood earned the doctorate she received for all the books she has written. Her examiners reportedly said that the book “A City Possessed” would have been enough by itself to have earned the degree. She is not just a “novelist” but a meticulous researcher who has produced one of New Zealand’s most important books ever.

A City Possessed has had dozens of favourable reviews, but there are a number of people who do not like the conclusions - and who have resorted to personal attacks against Lynley Hood, instead of debating the substance of the book.

Anybody who has earned a doctorate deserves to be protective of that honour, and Lynley Hood has done no more than I would have in the same circumstances. The fact that she has had to endure personal attacks (even today by a person using “a nom de plume” in the Otago Daily Times) makes her actions even more understandable.

It has been reported that Lynley Hood provided the correct information to Creative New Zealand, twice. How the mistake ever happened in the first place is extremely odd. How it happened is something that Creative New Zealand should explain.

Fixing up the problem is not too difficult - After all burning more CDs may be inconvenient, but is certainly not the cost that some manufacturers have when they have a product recall due to their own mistakes. And to the credit of Creative New Zealand, they have obviously agreed quickly to do as Lynley Hood asked, and make replacement CDs.

So the next question to ask, is where the story came from? Given that Creative New Zealand was already replacing the disks makes me smell a rat. It’s interesting that both the Editor of the Sunday Star Times, and one of the people publicly criticising Lynley Hood in the SST just happened to have a very close association with the Creche.

The focus of the debate should turn away from the qualifications of Lynley, and focus on the substance of her scholarship that enabled her qualification. Her critics should refrain from personal attacks and actually come out in the open and point out anything they have found wrong in the book.

The book exposes a scandal - Not just about the injustice done to Peter Ellis himself, but about the sexual abuse hysteria of the time that led to injustices for so many other people. It exposes problems with the law and justice system, and the appeal court system that allowed the mistake to occur and the mistake unable to be rectified. It exposes problems in police investigations and the interviewing of children.

But all these problems ARE recognised - at least by a couple of hundred prominent New Zealanders - retired judges, lawyers, lots of MPS, etc, who signed the petition of Lynley Hood and Don Brash to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Creche case.

The only people who seem not be listening are the the present government, and in particular Phil Goff as the Minister of Justice

March 22 2005
Comment by Winston

The comment by Brian mentioned:

"It’s interesting that both the Editor of the Sunday Star Times, and one of the people publicly criticising Lynley Hood in the SST just happened to have a very close association with the Creche."

Well, Sunday Star Times Editor is Cate Brett. Brett wrote about the Ellis/Civic Creche case a few years ago in “North & South”. She didn’t let the readers know that she had been a creche client parent during Peter Ellis’s creche employment era.

A commentator in that Sunday Star Times story was Kate de Goldi. de Goldi was also a creche client parent during Peter Ellis’s creche employment era. The story never mentioned that.

People, such as these two, have tried and failed in their attacks on “A City Possessed” because they can’t fault the scholarship - so all they can do is attack the author

March 23 2005
Comment by John Lorimer

Less than Fifty cents a Cd

Less than a dollar postage for a few dozen of the 1000 or so CDs

I’m sure those on the ‘artists dole’ wouldn’t see the funds anyway - as it would have gone to Dobbyn/Finn bros/hip-hop-tours and others that have ‘put in’ the so-called hard yards.

Hood is not being precious, previous poster ‘Brian’ raises the sharp questions.

Except - honorary degrees are not always a ‘joke’ as attributed to Hood in The Press. Many are well earned and well respected.

March 23 2005
Comment by Brian

John Lorimer made the comment that honorary degrees are not always a ‘joke’ …”Many are well earned and well respected”

I do not think that Lynley Hood would disagree with that either. Honorary degrees come with a huge amount of respect, but they do not convey the status of scholarship for a particular topic that an earned degree would have.

If Lynley Hood were to use an honorary degree to appear to enhance the status of her research on the Creche case it would have been a joke - just as much as a person with a PhD in Physics putting “Dr” in front of their name when speaking on medical matters.

Make no mistake - Lynley Hood’s Creche book has made as many ripples in the Child Protection/ Psychology / Justice world as Rutherford once did in the world of physics. And of course when anybody does come out with a bombshell and a significant presentation of “new” thought, there is always a reaction fom the old guard - the “Flat earthers” survived for a century or two.

March 26 2005
Comment by John Lorimer

I have no no argument with Dr Hood’s request and her work stands as an example of highest scholarship.

The honorary vs earned debate is a little removed. Perhaps the term ‘earned” is misleading, as it can most honorary degrees are also earned - but in a different forum. The term ‘enroled for’ might be a better one than ‘earned’.

Consider this; in the case of most degrees it is the receiver who petitions the University; in the case of honorary the university petitions the recipient