The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

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2005 Index 1 (Jan-Mar)


Otago Daily Times
March 21 2005

Author insists error be corrected
by Lea Jones

Dunedin author Lynley Hood is standing by her controversial call to have 2000 CD Roms containing incorrect biographical information destroyed, but rejects claims she threatened legal action.

Dr Hood last week wrote to Government department Creative New Zealand asking that the CDs, which incorrectly state her doctorate from the University of Otago is honorary, be destroyed and new versions be made and distributed.

Her request has drawn criticism from fellow authors, who the Sunday Star Times quoted accusing Dr Hood of vanity and paranoia.

However, Dr Hood, who wrote A City Possessed about the Christchurch Civic Creche sex abuse case, yesterday said the incorrect information could seriously damage her reputation.

The CDs would be used to promote New Zealand literature internationally, specifically at the London Book Fair later this month.

"Those CDs are going to be around for a long time and not only does the mistake take away my qualification, it's made it into a liability," Dr Hood said.

"If you've got an honorary doctorate and use the title, you're a joke. I can't afford for that to happen," she said.

In the letter to Creative New Zealand, Dr Hood said she believed the mistake was deliberate, as she had pointed out in writing on two occasions that the doctorate was examined, not honorary.

"Indeed, I am bound to conclude the error was deliberate, and that it was made by someone who clearly understands the difference between an earned degree and an honorary degree, and who must therefore be fully aware that misrepresenting an earned doctorate as an honorary doctorate to an international audience will seriously damage the honour and reputation of the degree holder.

"As you are well aware, anyone with an honorary doctorate who uses the title Dr, and who fails to add (Hon) to the letters after his or her name, is deservedly regarded as a pretentious ignoramus. Consequently, by portraying my degree as an honorary one in a government- sponsored publication, CreativeNZ has not only failed to acknowledge my proper scholarly status, it has turned legitimate use of my hard-earned doctorate into an object of contempt," the letter said.

Dr Hood was unperturbed by the backlash from her literary colleagues.

"Well, the people the paper spoke to were children's authors and poets."

While Creative New Zealand initially suggested inserting a correction card in every CD case, Dr Hood said she told them it would be "just as easy" to reburn and distribute the discs.

She was baffled about the references to legal action.

"That is totally incorrect. I have never made any threats. Legal action has never been discussed."

Dr Hood's letter concludes by saying a copy of it will be forwarded to her lawyer.

Despite the mistake, Dr Hood said she was pleased to be included in the CD.

"I was surprised to be asked, but I bet I won't be asked again."