Former Act Party leader Jamie Whyte has defended himself against accusations of “self-plagiarism” after it emerged an opinion piece he wrote on poverty in New Zealand was largely the same as one he penned in Britain a decade ago.

The piece, which claimed “there is no poverty in New Zealand”, was published in the New Zealand Herald today.

However, canny readers spotted many similarities between the piece and a work Dr Whyte published in the UK for the Times newspaper in April 2005.

One reader complained that the piece was “about Britain, with the countries reworked … This is the same article he had published about the UK.”

On Twitter, user @LI — politico posted: “Jamie Whyte 2005 v 2016. He literally copied a previous thing he wrote about Britain.”

“And by the way, in case you’re confused, self-plagiarism really isn’t okay. As an academic, Whyte would have had this hammered into him,” Tiso wrote on Twitter.

Dr Whyte’s piece begins: “There is no poverty in New Zealand. Misery, depravity, hopelessness, yes; but no poverty.

“The poorest in New Zealand are the unemployed. They receive free medical care, free education for their children and enough cash to pay for basic food, clothing and (subsidised) housing. Most have televisions, refrigerators and ovens. Many even own cars. That isn’t poverty.”

The column he wrote for the Times — headlined “The Only Poverty is in The Head” — starts almost identically, with the word “Britain” instead of “New Zealand”, and a slight variance in what those in poverty receive from the Government.

His excuse is really lame.

“It is indeed a minor adaptation of an article previously published,” he said. “That previous article in the Times was a minor adaptation of the content of a book that I’ve written. They [the Times] published it knowing that, so I’m completely happy to admit the fact. I just don’t see a problem with it.”

You can see however that the Herald were more than slightly miffed because of this finish to the article:

Dr Whyte voluntarily submitted the article to the Herald, and was not paid to do so.

Dr Whyte did not inform the Herald the article had been previously published.

The Herald accepted the article in good faith. It would not have appeared had the newspaper known the background.

I bet this is the last that we will hear of Mr Whyte. At least as far as the Herald is concerned.