Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said $2 million was available for the three research centres, Xinhua news agency reported.
"This initiative will strengthen research collaboration with China in three priority areas -- water research, food security, and non-communicable diseases," Joyce said.
The centres would coordinate New Zealand's engagement with China in the important areas of research and build on the existing bilateral programmes leading to more enduring and more impactful collaborations, he said.
The government announced three new China-New Zealand joint research projects after a meeting in Wellington in April last year.
The new projects will focus on improving water use efficiency and quality in dairy farm systems, integrating tracing technologies to give consumers and international markets confidence in the safety of dairy products and investigating nutrient cycling and grassland legumes in alpine grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau and in New Zealand high country to improve the economic sustainability of farms.