Wat Phra Dhammakaya Dunedin is a Thai Theravada Buddhist temple. There are two main branches of Buddhism - Theravada and Mahayana. "Theravada" means "School of the Elders" and is the most ancient branch of extant Buddhism today. It is the dominant form of Buddhism in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.


The Dunedin Dhammakaya Centre was started through a Thai family's request for some support in Dunedin. This request was made to the monks of the Dhammakaya International Society of New Zealand, whose head office is in Auckland. At that time, Phra Sudhammayanvidesa (Venerable Sudhammo), along with his monks and volunteers, visited the Thai community in Dunedin and a temple was established.

In Thailand, the Dhammakaya Movement is a popular organisation with several large monasteries and many lay and monastic practitioners. It was founded by the Most Venerable Dhammajayo in 1970. The meditative master was the Most Venerable Phramongkolthepmuni (Venerable Candasaro), the late abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen in Bangkok, and Master Nun Chandra Khonnokyoong.

In Dunedin, since its beginning, the temple has been running weekly meditation and prayer sessons which are aimed at supporting the local expat Thais, as well as anyone interested in Buddhism. This began at the Caversham temple at 33 Barnes Drive, which is still the main venue for the Sunday Buddhist Cultural Service, and the Friday meditation sessions are held in the Prayer and Meditation Room in the University of Otago's Union Building

Dhammachai International Research Institute

In 2007, a formal Memorandum of Understanding was developed with the University of Otago's Religious Studies Department. This supported an academic framework for the study of Buddhism through three terms of five years per memorandum. This led to the founding of the Dhammachai International Research Institute (DIRI). For more information about DIRI, please visit their website

The organisation's monks in their distinctive robes are a common sight around Dunedin and especially the University campus area, where they contribute to the faith-based support of a diverse range of students and others