Victoria to host centres strengthening NZ ties to Asia-Pacific

Victoria University of Wellington has welcomed an announcement by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith that the University will host two Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs).

CAPEs are cross-institutional centres of excellence in the language, culture, politics and economics of countries or groups of countries within the Asia-Pacific region. As well as teaching about and researching these countries, each CAPE will help learners, exporters, and government agencies improve their understanding of the countries and their languages.

Victoria University Provost Professor Wendy Larner said Victoria is delighted to lead the South East Asia CAPE and the Latin America CAPE and to be working with other universities through a consortium approach to the initiatives. This will see Victoria partner with the University of Otago, the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato in the South East Asia and Latin American CAPEs.

The consortia will also partner with other organisations, including the Asia New Zealand Foundation in the South East Asia CAPE and the Latin America New Zealand Business Council in the Latin America CAPE.

The third CAPE, focused on North Asia, will be led by the University of Auckland, and will also involve Victoria University, the University of Otago and the University of Waikato.

Professor Larner says Victoria’s successful bid to host the Latin America and Southeast Asia CAPEs reflects the University’s long history of international engagement and its reputation as New Zealand’s globally ranked capital city university.

“We have a strong focus on the Asia-Pacific region with considerable expertise in teaching and research related to Asia-Pacific countries. Furthermore, we have the BNZ Chair in Business in Asia, Professor Siah Hwee Ang, who is a respected commentator and researcher on strengthening economic ties with this region.

“The CAPEs initiative will help to deepen New Zealand’s economic and cultural connections with the region by providing intelligence and knowledge that will facilitate increased engagement.

“Our location in Wellington gives us direct access to New Zealand’s decision makers and means we are ideally positioned to influence policy -making, particularly on how to better engage with the Asia-Pacific region, which is increasingly important for our economic, social and cultural prosperity,” Professor Larner says.

Victoria is also well positioned to make a significant contribution to the North Asia CAPE says Professor Larner, and is pleased to be working with the University of Auckland to deliver results from the initiative.

“Victoria hosts a number of centres and institutes focused on North Asia, including the Confucius Institute, which promotes Chinese language teaching and cultural and intellectual exchange, and the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre—a collaboration of eight member universities—that researches political, economic, and social issues in contemporary China.”

The three CAPEs are part of the Innovative New Zealand package in Budget 2016, and are funded by a $34.5m Government investment over four years.