Bullying, harassment and discrimination

You can use the information on this page to identify whether you are experiencing bullying, harassment or discrimination and decide what resolution option you would like to pursue. 
If you are in immediate danger, call 111 or Unitec Security 0800 109 590.

On this page:

Definition of bullying

Bullying is unwelcomed and unreasonable behaviour that is repeated.

  • Unreasonable behaviour means actions that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see as unreasonable. It includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person.
  • Repeated behaviour is persistent and can involve a range of actions over time.

Examples of bullying

  • Cyber-bullying (use of electronic communication to bully, harass or frighten a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating, embarrassing or threatening nature).
  • Verbal abuse; yelling, using profanities/foul language.
  • Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or innuendo.
  • Belittling a person’s opinion.
  • Excluding, isolating or ignoring someone.
  • Intimidating a person – using psychological, physical or emotional forms.
  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work.
  • Overloading, or unreasonably denying, or starving a person of responsibility.
  • Establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail.
  • Physically threatening abuse/aggressive body language.
  • Making jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’.
  • Unjustifiably blocking applications for training, leave or promotion.

Bullying is not

  • One-off or occasional instances of forgetfulness, rudeness or tactlessness. 
  • Setting performance agreements because of academic performance or disciplinary outcome. 
  • Constructive feedback and legitimate advice.  
  • A lecturer requiring reasonable verbal or written academic instructions to be carried out. 
  • Warning or disciplining a Student in line with the Student Disciplinary Statute. 
  • A single incident of unreasonable behaviour (but could escalate if repeated) 
  • Action undertaken in an appropriate manner to transfer, discipline, advise, manage, counsel or expel a student. 

Definition of harassment

Harassment is conduct that is unwelcome or offensive to the recipient.
Conduct can be verbal, written, visual or physical conduct in relation to race, colour, ethnic or national origins, gender, age, disability, physical appearance, marital or family status, religion, ethical belief, participating or not participating in the activities of an employee union, political opinion or sexual orientation
This may be one incident of a serious nature or behaviour that is persistent.

Examples of harassment

  • Displaying sexual or sexist material.
  • Disruptive behaviour which interferes with the rights and learning opportunities of others.
  • Language and imagery which is offensive and/or intimidating (may be verbal, written or electronic).
  • Hand gestures of an offensive nature.
  • Any threatening or acts of aggression, bullying or intimidatory behaviour.
  • Calling others offensive nicknames. 
  • Belittling others' religious or cultural beliefs. 
  • Looking at others in such a way that they feel uncomfortable. 
  • Invading others' personal space. 
  • Touching others in a way they find unwelcome. 
  • Making racist or sexist jokes or comments. 
  • Mimicking others' accents, stutters or mannerisms. 
  • Spreading rumours. 
  • Playing ill-natured practical jokes. 
  • Venting work pressure by swearing or using abusive language. 
  • Requesting dates or sexual contact with others who find the approach unwelcome and/or where a formal imbalance of power exists, such as a Staff member making such requests of another person.
  • Threatening or implying adverse treatment if requests for sexual contact is not agreed to.

Harassment is not: any review, counselling or disciplinary process or steps undertaken on behalf of Unitec by an authorised person in accordance with Unitec’s statute, policies and procedures. 

Definition of discrimination

Discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in the same or similar circumstance because of any prohibited grounds and may be unlawful.

Examples of prohibited grounds

  • Sex, (which includes for example, pregnancy and childbirth).
  • Gender identification.
  • Marital status.
  • Religious belief. 
  • Ethical belief.
  • Colour.
  • Race.
  • Ethnic or national origins, which includes nationality or citizenship.
  • Disability.
  • Age.
  • Political opinion. 
  • Employment status.
  • Family status.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Union involvement.

Help and further assistance

If you are being bullied, harassed or discriminated against please consider using these options to address the matter. 


You are encouraged to immediately deal with the problem by directly contacting the other relevant party and respectfully explain your concerns and your expectations going forward. This information can be conveyed verbally or in writing. 
Benefits of Self-help: 

  • It can be personally empowering for you as a student.
  • It gives the other person an opportunity to correct any issues without a formal complaint being made.
  • It is the most confidential option for both parties.
  • It can be quick.

Staff Member Intervention

You can ask a staff member you know and trust to informally raise their concerns with the other relevant party on your behalf. The staff member may inform the other relevant party of your concerns and advise them of the impact on you and what the expectations are going forward. The staff member should inform their line manager if they feel they are unable to intervene or remain unbiased.  

Facilitated Discussion

You can ask a Staff member you know and trust to facilitate a discussion without prejudice, where appropriate, between you and the other relevant party to resolve the situation. This is a voluntary process which will only proceed with the agreement of the Student, the other relevant party and Staff member requested to be the facilitator. 

Te Hohourongo

You can seek Te Hohourongo (ancestral conflict resolution) by contacting Unitec’s Pae Arahi or Kaiāwhina through the Marae team. This is a tikanga Māori approach with an open exchange of views aimed at seeking consensus from all parties as to the resolution. This process will only proceed if agreed to by you and the other relevant party. 

External Mediation

You can seek external mediation. This option is particularly useful for serious allegations of bullying, harassment or discrimination. The Director of Student Success will assist in organising mediation with an external agency. Mediation will only proceed if agreed to by you, the other relevant party and the Director of Student Success. 

Formal Complaint (non-academic)

Please complete and submit the Notice of Formal Complaint Form; you can read more about this process and download the link from the how to make a complaint page

External Agency

You may take legal action or complain to the external organisations listed below. The links below will take you to the complaint section of their website.

Or you can also make complaints to other external agencies.

Please read this guideline for further information: Guidelines for resolving complaints informally(PDF, 279KB).

Flow chart of help and further assistance options(SVG, 217KB).

Talk to someone

Please reach out to Unitec kaimahi for support if you feel you are experiencing or have witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination.

You can also approach the following Support Services for advice. The links below take you to the generic information of these services: 

Here's the full list of Student Support Services(PDF, 64KB).