Centre for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism officially open

Prime Minister Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques

The Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, He Whenua Taurikura, was officially launched today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“Implementing all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain is a priority for the Government,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“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.

“I am pleased to announce Professor Dr Joanna Kidman (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa) and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley have been appointed Directors of the Centre to lead that work.

“Both Professors are renowned experts in their fields and will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their role as Directors.

“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,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The establishment of the National Centre of Research Excellence is in response to recommendation 14 of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain. The Centre 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,” Andrew Little 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,” Jacinda Ardern said.

More information about the Centre and the scholarship recipients can be found on the DPMC website.

Directors information

Professor Joanna Kidman – Professor of Māori Education, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). Joanna is a sociologist with affiliations to Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Raukawa. Joanna’s work spans indigenous sociology, Māori youth, higher education, decolonisation studies and comparative education.

Joanna has been appointed for a three-year term.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley – Honorary Research Associate, Massey University. Paul was, until 2019, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University. He retired from the university in April 2021. He has researched and written on social cohesion and diversity, racism, Pākehā identity, demographic change, the far right, white supremacism and antisemitism, immigration policy and settlement.

Paul has been appointed as an interim Director for up to a year, to work alongside Joanna in establishing the Centre.