The Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, He Whenua Taurikura, was officially launched today by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
The Prime Minister said the implementation of all recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the Christchurch masjidain terrorist attack was a priority for the Government.
“We have ensured that the Centre of Excellence will go even further than the Commission’s recommendation to establish a programme to fund independent New Zealand-specific research on the causes of, and measures to prevent, violent extremism and terrorism,” the Prime Minister said.
Ms Ardern today announced the appointment of Professor Dr Joanna Kidman (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa) and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley as Directors of the Centre.
“Both Professors are renowned experts in their fields and will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their role as Directors,” she said.
“After the tragedy of 15 March it was clear to all New Zealanders that we had to do everything in our power to stop this ever happening again. I believe this Centre will help us to be a more resilient, inclusive and safer Aotearoa New Zealand.”
The National Centre of Research Excellence will be hosted by Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, supporting research at many organisations around the country.
“He Whenua Taurikura goes beyond the report’s recommendation by establishing a dedicated Centre in addition to directly supporting research,” Lead Coordination Minister for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques, Andrew Little said.
“This Centre will play a key role in bringing together research organisations, civil society, and government to research how to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism, with a focus on understanding diversity and promoting social cohesion”.
“I look forward to seeing the Centre deepen understanding and enrich public discussion on preventing and countering violent extremism,” he said.
The Prime Minister also announced the first round of the Centre’s He Whenua Taurikura Master’s Scholarships, which were awarded to 11 postgraduate students across Aotearoa New Zealand.
The scholarships support research carried out at a New Zealand university or tertiary institute that will contribute to developing and maintaining breadth, depth and diversity of expertise in preventing and countering violent extremism.
“I congratulate our first Master’s Scholarship recipients and look forward to seeing their work contribute to making New Zealand a safer, more inclusive country for all,” Ms Ardern said.
More information about the Centre and the scholarship recipients can be found on the DPMC website.