About the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre, Dunedin


The Dhargyey Buddhist Centre was founded in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand, in November 1984 as an international Buddhist teaching centre for the Venerable Gen Rinpoche, Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, one of the most highly qualified Gelug lamas of his time. He gave it the Tibetan name Thuptän Shädrub Dhargyey Ling which can be translated as The Dhargyey Centre for Buddhist Learning and Practice. It was set up as a charitable trust with Gen Rinpoche as advisor to the trust board.

Gen Rinpoche's teaching and meditation program aimed at building a sound understanding of all Buddha's teachings with emphasis on Mahayana Buddhism.

As the only major Buddhist centre in this part of New Zealand the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre also acts to encourage harmony and unity amongst the followers of various Buddhist paths.


The Dhargyey Buddhist centre is located in an historic mansion acquired in 1986. In is near the centre of Dunedin with good views to the city, surrounding hills and sea. The house has a large meditation room, a library, and it is the residence of the Lamas (teachers). The house also accomodates some of the Centre's ordained and lay supporters as well as guests.

Teaching Program

History: Teaching Program of Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey

The teachings that were given by Gen Rinpoche covered all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, with emphasis on the lineage taught by Jamgön Lama Tsongkapa, founder of the Gaden or Gelug tradition. The teaching program is structured in a graded fashion, beginning with the Lam Rim and progressing through the classic texts of Buddhism.

Teachings have included Nagarjuna's Letter to a King (Suhrllekha), Kyabje Pabongka's Enlightenment in Your Hand (Namdröl Lagchang), Shantideva's A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life (Bodhisattvacaryavatara), Candrakirti's Introduction to the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara), Maitreya's Ornament of Clear Realisation (Abhisamayalankara), Je Tsongkapa's Great Exposition of the Path to Enlightenment (Jangchub Lam Rim Chenmo), and Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen's Mind and Mental Factors (Sem Sem Jung) These were interspersed with numerous short teachings on Mind Training (Lojong) by various Gelug, Kadam, Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya masters.

Tantric teachings and empowerments were given from time to time as is deemed appropriate. A systematic practical course in the Tibetan monastic tradition of debate was begun in 1993 under the guidance of Thubten Gendun, who studied at Sera monastery and the Sarnath Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies. Gen Rinpoche taught solely in Tibetan, so students were encouraged to learn Tibetan language as well as Buddhadharma. To facilitate this, Tibetan language was taught at the Centre, principally by the class interpreter, Losang Dawa. Every Sunday morning meditation classes were given along with a short experiential teaching to serve as the meditation topic.

Both of Gen Rinpoche's remaining living teachers have visited the Centre. His Holiness the Dalai Lama stayed at the Centre during his visit to New Zealand in 1992. He gave a brief Buddhist teaching during that visit. Gyume Kensur Ogyen Tseten, who normally resides either at Sera Monastery in southern India, or in Switzerland, visited for several months in 1988 and in 1992-3. Both times he gave a wide variety of Buddhist discourses.

With Gen Rinpoche's passing on August 11 (for details see The Most Venerable Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey) the Centre temporarily did not have a resident teacher. In March 1996 one of Gen Rinpoche's senior Tulku disciples, Venerable Jampa Thupten Rinpoche, arrived and took over the spiritual guidance of the Centre.

Current Teaching Schedule

Thupten Rinpoche established a new teaching program and it emphasizes Buddhist practice in everyday life. He teaches on the graded path to enlightenment (Tib. Lam-Rim) and mind transformation (Tib. Lo-jong) teachings. Regular classes are held three days a week. He is also teaching Shantideva's A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life (Bodhisattvacaryavatara), and plans to teach Philosophic Tenets Dub-ta in the future.

Occassionally he gives tantric initiations. On Sundays there are group practice sessions, small teaching with chanting, and meditation. There are regular advanced group practice for senior students of self-initiations and tsok offerings, as well as group Tara practice open to all. These can be seen in the calendar of events or by contacting the centre directly.

Another of Gen Rinpoche's close Tulku disciples, Venerable Lhagön Rinpoche, arrived at the centre in February 1998, and is mainly engaged with personal study and practice, Buddhist artwork and giving advice on rituals etc.


Students at the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre include lay as well as a growing number of ordained. At present there are a few monks and many nuns.

A large percentage of students have come from afar, some for only a few weeks or months. Others have come here semi-permanently from Australia, Germany, India, South Africa, Tibet, United Kingdom, U.S.A., as well as many other parts of New Zealand.

In association with the main Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Dunedin, Thupten Rinpoche has founded three new centres in New Zealand: Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling in Whangarei, Thubten Shenpen Dhargyey Ling in Christchurch, and more recently Tho Sam Dhargyey Ling in Auckland. The Lamas also visit other centres in NZ such as Mahamudra Centre in Colville and the centres in Blenheim and Nelson (Upper Moutere).


There is a good collection of English language books on Buddhism as well as some in Tibetan and Chinese. These are available for borrowing to members of the Centre. The Librarian is Olga Hemmingson. The Centre also has a complete set of Buddha's teachings in Tibetan pecha format (the Kangyur), the set of Indian commentaries (the Tangyur), and quite large audio and video tape collections.

Publication of Gen Rinpoche's and Thupten Rinpoche's teachings is in progress. A stupa in commemoration of Gen Rinpoche has been built about 30 minutes by car from the Centre, on the spot where his cremation ceremony took place.

Further information

Direct any enquiries that you have about the Centre, its programs and activites, membership etc to:
The Director (2005-) Peter Small:
Phone: (03) 477 8374
Fax and overseas calls: (+64 3) 477 8351
E-mail: Peter Small: trustees@dhargyey.org.nz

Full address details of the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre and associated organisations are available.

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The information on this page was originally compiled on 15 May 1999, and last revised: 31 July, 2005
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