To: Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University

Massey University: Divest from Genocide

We demand that Massey University takes the following principled actions:

  1. Divest immediately from all investment in Israeli Government Bonds, and commit to the creation of a policy to avoid such investment in the future.

  2. Fully disclose the nature and value of any and all other investments in the Israeli Government, Israeli companies, companies identified by the BDS movement, and/or weapons and other military equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

  3. Fully disclose all research collaborations with Israeli universities, institutions and companies, with weapons and other military equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and with companies identified by the BDS movement.

  4. Encourage all academics to observe the guidelines of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and coordinate academic aid efforts directly with Gazan universities to ensure the long-term resilience and sustainability of Gaza’s higher education system, as requested by Gazan academics.

  5. Take seriously your obligations to Indigenous students as a supposedly Te Tiriti led university. This means fortifying pathways that engender Māori student excellence and further increasing opportunities and resources that engender all Indigenous student excellence, particularly facilitating scholarships and study opportunities for Palestinian students.

  6. Heed the following demands already made by student protesters across Aotearoa to:

    1. Declare and recognise Palestine as an independent and sovereign state;
    2. Denounce anti-Semitisim, Islamophobia, and all forms of discrimination;
    3. Engage in good faith with student protesters and refrain from calling the police on student protests
    4. Release a statement in solidarity with Palestine condemning Israel’s genocidal actions against Palestinians, acknowledging Israel’s war crimes over 76 years of occupation, and calling for an immediate ceasefire and end to illegal occupation.

It is in Massey's strategic plan that global social and economic divides, fractured interstate relationships, ongoing economic and humanitarian crises, strained health systems, and security threats as issues experienced globally are listed as requiring “universities such as Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University [to] step forward and address the complexities those issues present.”

We are demanding that you follow through on your words and align Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University’s practices with these principles.

We are demanding that you put your money where your mouth is. 

Why is this important?

It has come to our attention that Massey University is complicit in genocide.

The Massey University Foundation has $64 million invested in managed funds, of which a spokesperson has confirmed $7,105 has been invested in Israeli Government Bonds over the last three months.

Within those three months, the Israeli government has bombed schools, attacked health infrastructure, fired missiles into refugee camps, and prevented aid from reaching Gaza, weaponising famine and disease against the people of Palestine. 

Even prior to your investment, Israel was already engaged in a programme of genocide. As of 6 June 2024, the World Health Organisation reported over 36,000 Palestinians killed— including more than 13,000 children—with more than 10,000 reported missing under rubble and 83,000 injured. Mass graves have been found outside Palestinian hospitals. Even these statistics are being reported as incomplete.

These atrocities follow years of dispossession and systematic apartheid inflicted on the Palestinian people by the state of Israel. As of 2022, the people of Gaza already faced “inadequate access to clean water, sporadic electricity provision and [were] without a proper sewage system. Two thirds of the population lived in poverty.” This level of economic and infrastructural destruction at the hands of Israel meant 80% of the population were forced to depend on international aid to survive. Despite UN Resolution 194’s affirmation of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland, more than 6 million Palestinians live today in the diaspora, barred from their ancestral home. This Nakba (Catastrophe) has been ongoing for more than 76 years. Palestinians have been systematically slaughtered and expelled from their lands to make room for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, resulting in a settler-colonial system of oppression “maintained by Israel with the support of the international community.” This is what your investment condones and supports.

Massey University, you are complicit in crimes against Gazans, against Palestinians, and against humanity. We, your students, including Palestinian students, pay you to receive an education we wish to be proud of, and you have used that money to help pay for genocide. As academics and university administrators from Gaza have reported after 8 months of incessant bombing, Palestinian civic infrastructure, schools, hospitals, libraries, museums and cultural centres - built by generations of Palestinians - currently lie in ruins. More than 5,479 students, 261 teachers, and 96 university professors have been killed alongside the destruction of all 12 universities in Gaza. Just as you have been cutting courses and jobs across your three campuses for ‘lack of funds,’ you have also been guilty of funding scholasticide in Gaza.  

Neither outrage, nor disgust are able to convey the full extent of how we feel. 

We make our demands on the back of a string of student activism across Aotearoa. On the 23rd of May, students from all three campuses joined university students across the country in the National Students Rally for Palestine. On the 14th of June, Massey University students at the Pukeahu campus painted over the walls of the Fine Arts block in protest of Massey University’s lack of stance against the prevailing genocide, leaving the following words addressed to staff: “The students have been asking. Disclose. Divest. Declare. Massey has refused to take a stance. And the staff have remained silent. Massey has defined their response as ‘appropriate’. There is nothing appropriate about ignoring the incomprehensible suffering of Palestinians.

We note the hypocrisy of your investment in Israeli Government Bonds as a signatory of both the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which commits to “Zero Hunger” and “Peace, Justice and Strong institutions,” and the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, which commits to better aligning investment activities with society’s environmental, social, and corporate governance interests. You have clearly failed to uphold a multitude of obligations: to your students, staff, and alumni, to Gazans and all Palestinians at large, and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

Are you truly acting as a Te Tiriti-led university as you claim? Aotearoa New Zealand, including its universities, including our university, has a responsibility to protect Indigenous people’s rights to sovereignty and self-determination around the world, under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.This means advocating for Tino Rangatiratanga ki te ao - sovereignty for everybody. Both Palestine and Aotearoa have a shared history of injustice under settler colonialism. You have claimed you uphold Te Tiriti to a “new standard of excellence” in “analysis, practice and implementation initiatives across all areas of the university.” Already, at the national level, via Te Mana Akonga, Māori students across Aotearoa have expressed their complete opposition to the colonial state of Israel’s acts of genocide against tangata taketake in Palestine, unapologetically supporting a vocalised statement from tertiary institutions demanding an immediate and lasting ceasefire. A truly Te Tiriti-led university would join Māori students in recognising that there can be no true justice in Aotearoa without justice for Palestine. 

Universities hold a significant platform and a large amount of power in our country. When you have such a platform with which to be heard, what you don’t say matters just as much as what you do. As such, rather than having a “right to remain silent,” we believe an institution responsible for teaching, producing, and sharing knowledge actually has a responsibility to speak up. It is, after all, enshrined in the Education Act 1989 that you be “the critic and conscience of society.” It is past time that institutions like Massey University use their privilege, their platform, and voice to help FREE PALESTINE.