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Tizard: Launch of Te Ao Marama Youth Centre

Hon Judith Tizard: Launch of Te Ao Marama Youth Centre

Launch of Te Ao Marama Youth Centre

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

Thank you for the warm welcome. It is a very great honour for me to be invited to Hastings to formally open the new Centre for Te Ao Mârama - and to bring with me the greetings of the Prime Minister who is also the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

It is especially exciting to be taking part a function that celebrates the achievements of the young people of your region.

Government's support for the arts

Helen Clark took on the role of Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage because this government believes the arts are important to New Zealand.

We've made a commitment to ensuring that cultural activities are accessible to all New Zealanders to enjoy. Over the last four years we've provided additional funding for a range of arts and heritage organisations in New Zealand.

This includes major organisations like the Ballet, the Symphony Orchestra, Te Papa, the Historic Places Trust. But also, through Creative New Zealand, organisations such as Arts Access Aotearoa, who do such a great job in nurturing and promoting the arts for those who fall outside traditional artist circles.

It gives me great satisfaction to see an optimistic and energetic spirit across the whole of the cultural sector.

We've given this level of support because we see the arts as important for three main reasons.

Intrinsic satisfaction. I know from my own experience and interest in the arts - fibre arts in particular (that means Knitting!) that there's great satisfaction in creative activities.

Anyone can get that satisfaction from expressing their own creativity, and in whatever medium they choose. You don't need to be an expert: often the simple process of giving it a go can give you just as much of a buzz as the final product.

For many people who haven't given it a go before, gaining the technical skills to be able to portray their thoughts, dreams, and way they see their lives and their country, is a special achievement.

Identity. Working in artistic and heritage fields helps us recognise that we as New Zealanders have a distinct cultural identity; it's an identity in which the rich qualities of Mâori culture play a strong and vital part; and it's often our artists, story-tellers and performers who show the world who we are.

Having the opportunity to contribute to that identity is a great step forward in gaining confidence as individuals and as a nation. And when you get the chance to exhibit or perform your work, the pride and satisfaction can sometimes be overwhelming! It also helps artists to push themselves just that bit further to discover new strengths.

Economy. Qualities such as innovation or creativity contribute to all parts of our lives, to the way we live and work with others, to the way we see our daily surroundings and our futures.

Richard Taylor, who started WETA - the company that makes the amazing special effects in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films - says "there's no greater future than in the arts." "Except for mother nature, everything you come into contact with during your life, for better or worse, has been touched with a creative eye. The knife and fork you use, the clothes you wear, the car you drive . It's actually the most comprehensive industry you could hope to get into."

Richard knows what he's talking about and he's won several Oscars because of it!

So the arts are important not just because they are a way in which we can express ourselves.

The arts can, and do, provide income; they help make a richer environment for ourselves, our families and for our communities; and of course for our country these activities earn tourist dollars and increase job opportunities.

Many people travel to a region just because of the rich arts offerings in that region, whether it's a performing arts festival, an important local collection of art, or a place that somebody wrote a famous book. I really do know people who have come from overseas to go to the places that Janet Frame wrote in, and to travel to Dunedin because of the unique Flying Nun musical sound.

What is truly rewarding for me is seeing just how much commitment and enthusiasm there is for the arts and for cultural activities all over New Zealand.

The importance of local participation and support

No government, no matter how supportive it is to the cultural sector, can do it all itself. I'm delighted with the work of local authorities, businesses and regional community groups to directly involve people of all ages, stages and talents in the arts.

A huge number of people have given their time, skills and enthusiasm to Te Ao Mârama.

To the major supporters and sponsors of this project, I want to say thank you. It is so brave and so important to put money and time and community weight behind our young people, our artists and our community champions. The best news of all, when you sponsor the arts, is that your team always wins!

None of this could be achieved without a strong community spirit and commitment from the people. I give a vote of gratitude and admiration to members of the numerous groups, businesses, organisations, trusts, government agencies and individuals whose generosity has supported this project.

Te Ao Mârama - the project, the centre and the people in it - is evidence of how much Hastings people care for their young.

This is a heartening and successful local initiative for local people. It's been immensely valuable to the young people who've worked through it, and it will continue to be of value to those who continue the tradition by handing on what they've learnt to the next group coming through.

It is the enthusiasm, commitment, the energy, the talents, the passion and the sheer hard work of the young people that will continue to drive Te Ao Mârama.

I'm just so excited about the many amazing things that are going to come out of this space when all the renovations are complete. I'll definitely be back to see how you are going.


There is a Whakatâuke or Mâori proverb that some of you may be familiar with. It says in translation: "Persevere with determination, don't be put off by small obstacles." ["Kaua mâ te waewae tûtuki, engari mâ te ûpoko pakaru." - source: Te Ara Reo Mâori, Puna Kupu: Te Wânanga o Aotearoa, 2002.]

Congratulations to you all for doing just that.

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