New research centre to focus on countering violent extremism

Research centre established in response to Royal Commission of Inquiry report on 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack.

A new centre to support research on countering violent extremism is being hosted by Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

He Whenua Taurikura, the National Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, is headed by the University’s Professor Joanna Kidman (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa) and Massey University’s Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley.

The government-funded centre has been established in response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry report on the March 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch. Recommendation 14 of the report called for the government to fund independent research on countering violent extremism.

Professor Kidman said the centre’s work will focus on understanding how events such as the Christchurch terrorist attack can be prevented from happening again.

“As a nation, we witnessed the attack on the Christchurch mosques and we grieved for those who lost their lives and their loved ones. In our own communities, we’ve also witnessed the rise of groups that carry messages of hate and destruction.

“He Whenua Taurikura will bring together expert researchers from organisations around the country to help us understand and make sense of these fractures in our communities that have, at times, splintered into violence and hatred,” she said.

The centre will receive $1.325 million for the year beginning 1 July 2022 and $2.15m for each subsequent year.

Key objectives of the centre include supporting New Zealand-specific research on the causes of, and measures to prevent, violent extremism and terrorism, and providing information to help inform the work of government agencies.

Professor Kidman said the centre’s work will also contribute to public understanding of the reasons why violent extremism emerges and what can be done to counter its rise.

“Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is proud to host He Whenua Taurikura and to do what we can to support its important kaupapa,” said Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Margaret Hyland.