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Support for New Zealand Studies Centre in London

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

6 April 2008 Media Statement

Support for New Zealand Studies Centre in London

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that a unique academic facility in the United Kingdom focusing on the culture, identity, and history of New Zealand is to receive more than a quarter of a million dollars in government support.

“The New Zealand Government will provide $255,000 for the further development of the Centre for New Zealand Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London,” Helen Clark said.

The announcement was made during the Prime Minister’s visit to the United Kingdom for the Progressive Governance Conference hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“This Centre is the only one of its kind in Europe to focus solely on New Zealand Studies. The funding from the New Zealand Government announced today matches the level of support for the Centre provided by the University of London.

“The Centre brings together the work, research, and resources of a dispersed group of academics in the field of New Zealand studies. It also acts as a base for visiting New Zealand academics who seek to engage and collaborate with the academic community in the UK and Europe.

“At a higher level, the Centre encourages broader academic and research links between New Zealand universities and those in the UK and across Europe.

“The Centre aims to promote a wider focus on New Zealand in the UK and across Europe, by reaching out to business, the media and communities.

“It hosts activities such as conferences, fortnightly seminars, and film screenings. It also hopes to commence a taught Master’s programme in New Zealand Studies.

“Since its opening in February 2007, the Centre’s support network has continued to grow, with a fundraising programme now underway to provide an endowment fund for its future operation,” Helen Clark said.

The Centre Director, Dr Ian Conrich, was named ‘New Zealander of the Year in the UK’ in 2008 for his work in establishing the Centre. The Centre was sponsored by London University Vice-Chancellor Sir Graeme Davies, and opened by New Zealanders Jonathan Hunt and Don McKinnon, all of whom are New Zealanders.


The Centre for New Zealand Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, was opened on Waitangi Day 2007 under the guidance of Sir Graeme Davies, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, and Professor Philip Dewe, Vice-Master of Birkbeck.

Dr Ian Conrich, Chair of the New Zealand Studies Association, has been seconded from Roehampton University to act as Director of the Centre.

Since its opening the centre has hosted or taken part in 16 seminars. The New Zealand Studies Association’s annual conference this year The State of the Nation: New Zealand’s Centenary as a Dominion, was offered in conjunction with the centre. The conference attracted approximately 80 participants, and involved speakers from Europe and North America, and several New Zealand-based academics. Activities the centre has planned over the next twelve months include the next New Zealand Studies Association/Centre for New Zealand Studies conference in Florence in July which will explore the relationship between New Zealand and the Mediterranean.

The resources collected and being received by the Centre already place it as the most important archive and research base for New Zealand Studies in the Northern hemisphere. The links established with the Alexander Turnbull Library, the New Zealand Film Archive (NZFA), and the Macmillan Brown Centre will allow for a highly effective exchange of information and a valuable international support network for research.

The Centre for New Zealand Studies has a memorandum of understanding with the Otago Polytechnic, and is in discussions to formalise its relationship with Otago University, the University of Auckland, the University of Vienna, and Monash University. The Centre is also pursuing a number of other formalised relationships with international institutions.

More information on the Centre for New Zealand Studies at Birkbeck, University of London:


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