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Petition Started Despite University Assurances

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Sept 1 NZPA - An online petition has started to stop the closure of the London-based Centre for New Zealand Studies, despite assurances from the University of London that it will not close.

The centre is part of Birkbeck College at the university and holds thousands of books, journals, DVDs, CDs, and videos on New Zealand in its research catalogue, hosts events and offers Maori language classes.

Several PhD students also study there.

In April last year then prime minister Helen Clark gave the centre a $255,000 lump sum.

The college has previously said it wants to integrate the centre more closely and expand its focus from film and arts to public policy.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the New Zealand High Commission in London was seeking a meeting with the university to clarify the confusion.

It was difficult timing with summer holidays in Britain and he was not sure when the meeting would take place.

A petition on the lobby forum website has 115 signatures from people not only New Zealand and Britain but Austria, Germany, the United States, and Spain.

Spokesman for the Friends of the Centre for New Zealand Studies Paul Burns said they welcomed the meeting and wished it could have been held sooner.

"As far as we are concerned, Birkbeck acted unreasonably and against the agreement signed with the New Zealand government."

A source from the centre told NZPA that the centre was "absolutely closing".

Labour MP Chris Carter said the centre was "dedicated to promoting this country".

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