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Conference to bring 1000s of people to Ōtautahi

03 April 2023

UC academics are set to host a conference that aims to put Indigenous knowledge at the centre of communication research.


IAMCR president Nico Carpentier and UC Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey formally signed the Memorandum of Understanding. Standing left to right: Corban Te Aika (Ngāi Tūāhuriri), Prof Natalia Chaban, Prof Donald Matheson, Prof Linda Jean Kenix, Dr Tara Ross, Dr Zita Joyce, Prof Gerard Goggin (IAMCR secretary-general), Dr Elske van de Fliert (IAMCR treasurer), Bruce Girard (IAMCR executive director). Sitting: Prof Cheryl de la Rey, Prof Nico Carpentier (IAMCR president)

For the first time in almost 30 years, major global communication conference, the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), will take place in the Southern Hemisphere. More than 1000 international and national delegates are expected to come to the annual conference in Ōtautahi Christchurch in July 2024.

Convening at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, the theme is Whiria te tangata | Weave the people together: Communicative projects of decolonising, engaging, and listening. The theme is a whakataukī about the strength that comes through common purpose – highlighting the challenges of multiculturalism and the crises facing neoliberal globalisation.

More broadly, the theme invites reflection on the terms and models appropriate to describe contemporary communication, including the political and moral goals embedded in them.

IAMCR president Nico Carpentier and UC Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey formally signed the Memorandum of Understanding and UC’s commitment to supporting this conference.

“UC’s journey of developing a greater understanding of cultural inclusiveness and the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi began a long time ago. Supporting this conference is a unique opportunity for our academics to share their perspectives on Indigenous knowledge with the wider world and perhaps inspire communications research globally,” Professor De la Rey says.

Aotearoa New Zealand's unique bicultural history and position make it an ideal location for this conference. It is also a land of immigrants spanning from the first waka 1000 years ago to recent Pacific and Asian immigration. This history underpins strong connections across the Pacific and a shared legacy of addressing colonial impacts on health, environment and security.

In addition to that, UC’s position of being the only tertiary institution in Aotearoa to have a formal Te Tiriti partnership with local iwi Ngāi Tūāhuriri also contributed to the successful bid.

School of Language, Social and Political Sciences Professor Donald Matheson, the lead academic bringing this conference to Ōtautahi Christchurch, says, “Holding the conference in Aotearoa is a chance to put decolonising communication and Indigenous media at the heart of academic thinking. It’s also a chance for this country to share our experience of partnership between mana whenua and settler society.”

“It’s also about manaaki. Mana whenua and the university are teaming up to welcome our manuhiri and provide an exceptional experience attendees won’t forget,” Professor Matheson says.

In addition to its close partnership with mana whenua, UC is also home to the country’s first journalism school and is the only institution in the country to offer a Māori communications major. Media and Communications at the University recently maintained its spot in the Top 250 as part of the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

The bid for the conference was submitted in partnership with mana whenua, for whom communication is a key pillar of iwi development, and with the support of UC’s conferencing partners ChristchurchNZ and Tourism New Zealand.

In supporting the event ChristchurchNZ and Tourism New Zealand shared their excitement about bringing the conference to Ōtautahi and said delegates can expect a warm welcome, a thriving city, and magnificent regions to explore after the conference.

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