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Vic launches NZ Institute for Research on Ageing

New Zealand’s first institute for research on ageing has been set up at Victoria University.

The New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing (NZIRA) will bring together experts and researchers from a wide range of sectors and institutions.

“Ageing is a huge issue for New Zealand and one we must address,” says Victoria University Professor of Psychology, Sik-Hung Ng.

In New Zealand, reaching the age of 65 and beyond. Women who reach 65 can expect to live another 19 years and men another 15 and a half years. The proportion of the population that aged 65 or over is expected to increase rapidly in the next 50 years, from 12 percent in 1996 to 25 percent in 2051.

“There’s a clear need to increase our understanding of ageing and the experience of old age,” Professor Ng says. “We need to help individuals, families, organisations and government understand and respond to the challenges presented by our ageing population and longer life expectancies.”

Dr Judith Davey, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Victoria, says “these challenges go beyond the individual and family level to impact upon the whole of our society. Housing, health, education, employment, consumption, income distribution, economic growth – ageing affects all these areas.”

“That’s why the institute has a vital role to play. By bringing together experts in disciplines ranging from psychology to Maori studies, architecture to social policy and sociology, the institute will provide a forum for and enhance collaboration.”

Professor Ng says the institute, which is to host a series of visiting experts, will build on the high level of expertise on ageing that already existed at Victoria.

“We are extremely grateful to TOWER which has, through the VUW Foundation, provided funding for visiting fellowships and a conference on ageing and intergenerational relations to be held in Wellington during August this year,” he says.

Professor Ng would like to see a high level of community involvement and participation in the institute. “We need to raise public awareness of the issues facing New Zealand as our population ages as well as expand academic knowledge on how to age well.”

The institute plans to publish a regular newsletter and set up a website to help promote its findings and activities.

Victoria University Wellington

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