Government establishes counter-terrorism research centre and scholarships

The Lead Coordination Minister for the Royal Commission’s Report into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques, Andrew Little, today announced the Government is establishing a National Centre of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.

“The National Centre of Excellence will be a collaborative organisation based in a New Zealand university or research institute, with the Government funding research into the causes of terrorism as part of its ongoing response to the 2019 terrorist attack on mosques in Christchurch,” Andrew Little said.

Establishing a programme to fund independent New Zealand-focused research on the causes of, and measures to prevent, violent extremism and terrorism was one of 44 recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack.

“ What happened in Christchurch was horrific,” Andrew Little said. “The Government is committed to doing all it can to prevent it happening again, which is why we accepted in principle all 44 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

“In June, participants in the first national hui on countering terrorism and violent extremism discussed the objectives and priorities for the National Centre of Excellence.

“We are now taking the next step and establishing a programme to fund research specific to New Zealand to help us understand the causes of, and ways to prevent, the violent actions we saw in Christchurch and Auckland.

 “We are offering at least 10 scholarships of $15,000 each to master’s students researching ways of countering and preventing terrorism, including issues like social cohesion and social equality.

“Work done by the National Centre of Excellence and the scholarship recipients will deepen our understanding of how and why violent terrorism can occur and help us prevent it happening again,” Andrew Little said.

Scholarship applications open today and close on October 31. The position of Director of the National Centre of Excellence is also being advertised.

Yesterday, in line with another of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, the Government passed a new counter-terrorism law, making it an offence to plan or prepare to carry out a terrorist act, and bringing the definition of a terrorist act into line with counter-terrorism laws in other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom.