Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures

The New Zealand Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures (CSIMC NZ) is a new national educational initiative.


New Zealand is a small country with just over four million people. In the last two decades the population has changed dramatically, now with substantial Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities.

The New Zealand Census in 1874 recorded 17 Muslims. In the last census in 2006 there were more than 36,000 Muslims. This community is made up of a large number of migrant communities from South Asia, some via Fiji, South East Asia and the Middle East and refugee communities from Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Increasingly, it is necessary to understand Islam in order to understand our society.

An understanding of Islam is also vital in the geo-political world that all New Zealanders find themselves in. It is important to appreciate the different cultures and religions and sustain dialogue across these differences. The national centre for Islamic Studies will have a national and regional focus on which to base our understanding of the wider Muslim world.


The project to establish a national Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures (CSIMC NZ), jointly undertaken by Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago, has the explicit support of the New Zealand Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand and has been included in the New Zealand's Alliance of Civilizations Implementation Plan. The Centre was conceived along the lines of a similar project in Australia.

The Centre will draw on a range of disciplines, including Religious Studies, History, Anthropology, Politics, Law and Languages. This multi-disciplinary perspective will characterise all the work of the Centre, including its undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and the research and conferences that it fosters.


  • To take a lead role in public debates in New Zealand on Islam and issues of concern to Muslims here.
  • To provide resources and expert guidance for New Zealanders on Islam.
  • To be a resource for the Muslim community, for government at the local and national level, and for business and the wider New Zealand community.
  • To become the national and a regional centre for the highest quality academic research and teaching in Islamic Studies.
  • To appoint leading internationally acknowledged researchers and to develop a post-graduate programme in Islamic Studies for both New Zealanders and students from across the region. Students at the Centre would benefit from our broader expertise in religions and from the excellent educational environments of Victoria and Otago universities.
  • To develop links and relationships with other centres throughout Australia and New Zealand, with whom we could share visiting Islamic Studies scholars and other resources.
  • To promote the peace and understanding across our region that will be vital for all our futures.