The New Zealand Foreign Minister opened the first ever New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research last night at an Auckland university.
There was a huge turnout for the launch at the Fale Pasifika building, drawing in many esteemed people from across the country.
Those in attendance included the Honorable Shane Jones, Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development, and Labour Party MP Jenny Salesa, among other politicians.
The University of Auckland, AUT University and the University of Otago have collaborated to form the NZIPR, which will receive $7.5 million in funding over five years.
The research conducted there will address the challenges and opportunities facing the Pacific Islands and their communities.
Between them, the three universities educate 75 per cent of all Pacific Island university students in New Zealand, and produce 60 per cent of Pacific PhDs.
They also employ 90 per cent of the 175 Pacific academics working in universities across New Zealand.
The consortium will work to make the NZIPR a focal point for the sharing of knowledge in the Pacific region to governments, businesses, community groups and other stakeholders.
University of Auckland’s vice chancellor, professor Stuart McCutcheon, welcomed the launch of the centre.
“The Institute will charge both with looking towards and listening to the mighty Pacific. We applaud its arrival and look forward to celebrating its many successes.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, said the NZIPR will “provide data, analysis and tools their Pacific leaders and the international community need to guide development, interventions and good decision making”.
NZIPR director, associate professor Damon Salesa, is hopeful for the future.
“The NZIPR is a groundbreaking initiative to develop research and understanding about the Pacific and its opportunities and challenges,” said Mr Salesa.
“The collaborative model of the NZIPR means it is committed to research that is anchored in the relationships that come from New Zealand’s unique position as a Pacific nation itself, a country with a rich Pacific heritage.”
Mr Salesa finished the night’s formal launch off by saying, “This is an exciting and transformative opportunity, but the work lies ahead.
“The canoe is finished, let us see how it sails.”