New Zealand student’s body ‘undiscovered in dorm room for eight weeks’

There are calls for an investigation after a student’s body reportedly went undiscovered in a New Zealand dorm room for nearly eight weeks.

Authorities have released few details about the incident at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, but The New Zealand Herald said the body went “unnoticed” for nearly two months.

Chris Hipkins, the country’s education minister, said it was a horrific situation.

“If you’re going into a hall of residence or a hostel, you are paying top dollar for not just a roof over your head but also the pastoral care that goes with that,” Mr Hipkins said. “And I think clearly that’s not been present in this case.”

New Zealand news site Stuff reported that the body was discovered after other students noticed a smell.

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Johnson said investigators were finishing their examination of the scene – at the university’s Sonoda Village accommodation.

He said specialist teams had been called in to help with formal identification and that a post-mortem examination was carried out on Tuesday.

Police have not identified the student and say it will be up to a coroner to rule on the cause of death.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Cheryl de la Rey, said in a statement that they were “devastated by what has happened and extend [their] deepest sympathy to the family”.

She called it “an extremely distressing time” for students and staff and that it was “inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred”.

Ms De la Rey said the university would commission an independent investigation into the case.

While the police investigate, she said the university was “somewhat limited” in what it could say about the circumstances.

The vice-chancellor said the university would not comment further out of respect for the family’s wishes.

The company which runs Sonoda Village, Campus Living Villages, said it was “deeply saddened” and also would not be commenting out of respect for the family.

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