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Speech: Hasler - New Cultural Ministry

SPEECH NOTES
HON MARIE HASLER
MINISTER FOR CULTURE AND HERITAGE
ANNOUNCEMENT NEW MINISTRY FOR CULTURE AND HERITAGE
SECOND MILLENNIUM CONCERT FOR LITERATURE AND DRAMA
BANQUET HALL, PARLIAMENT
6.00PM, WEDNESDAY 28 JULY 1999

Mr Speaker, Hon Doug Kidd; Telecom General Manager Communications, Ariane Burgess; fellow MPs and invited guests, good evening.

I am especially pleased to welcome you all here this evening to this second Millennium event here in the Banquet Hall.

This Government is thinking towards the millennium and is taking a great step forward for the culture and heritage sector.

Last month the Prime Minister, Hon Jenny Shipely, asked me to expand my portfolio as Minister of Cultural Affairs to Minister for Culture and Heritage.

This reflects Government's positive vision for the future and my own view that culture and heritage underpins all we are, as New Zealanders, both socially and economically.

Uniting culture and heritage will help us to celebrate, foster and protect our cultural and historical legacy. We can ensure a more coordinated approach to cultural and historical objectives and see greater promotion and protection of our distinctive national identity.

These changes represent a significant upgrading of the priority given to culture and heritage by this Government.

They will enable me, as Minister for Culture and Heritage, to take a "big picture" approach to policy development; and to create a strong platform for Government's further thinking about how it can most effectively protect our cultural and heritage history and support these activities now and in the future.

This strengthening of the culture and heritage sector is particularly relevant as we go forward into the new millennium when New Zealanders have a tremendous opportunity to present our unique culture to the world.

We have a young, fresh and vibrant culture and one that it is constantly evolving as it continues to reflect who and what we are as New Zealanders.

Combining culture and heritage into one portfolio recognises the importance of New Zealand's cultural identity and under one umbrella it will be easier to ensure greater promotion of our distinctive identity.

This new role means Government will, for the first time, be able to take a strategic overview of the culture and heritage sector. At the same time we will be building a platform for creatively considering and enhancing our involvement in this sector.

As many of you will be aware, Government has for some time been reassessing its involvement in the cultural sector. This involvement has developed in a rather haphazard way over many decades and has been scattered among a variety of portfolios, departments and agencies some of which have other, non-cultural priorities.

I am now in a position to tell you the extent of my new role.

From 1 September this year as Minister for Culture and Heritage I will have responsibility for historic heritage policy and cultural broadcasting policy. Currently both the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Conservation handle aspects of historic heritage policy, and cultural broadcasting policy is with the Minister of Communications.

The inclusion of both these two policy components within the Culture and Heritage portfolio will, not only increase its strategic range, but also enable such policy developments to take place within an appropriate context, where it will inform and be informed by Government's involvement in similar areas.

As Minister for Culture and Heritage I will also become responsible for New Zealand on Air; a responsibility currently with the Minister of Communications. I would like to reassure people that there will be no change to the way New Zealand on Air operates and Government has guaranteed funding for the next three years.

Departmental responsibility for this function will be transferred from the Ministry of Commerce to the new Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

In my new role I also become Minister Responsible for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. There will be no change to the operation of either of these two bodies, or indeed to any organisation outside core government departments.

The Heritage Group of Internal Affairs comprising the National Archives, the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Historical Publications and Heritage Property will also be my responsibility.

This heritage group will remain within the Department of Internal Affairs structure.

From 1 September I will also be Minister responsible for the National Library. The National Library currently reports to the Minister of Education.

In support of these changes a new Ministry for Culture and Heritage will be created.

The new ministry will require resources over and above those of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, and a process is under way to determine the appropriate level of funding to be transferred from the departments currently responsible for those activities being moved.

This new ministry will also continue its current functions involving proving policy advice (primarily on arts and museological issues); monitoring the performance of cultural crown entities, including Te Papa, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand Film Commission and Creative New Zealand and the three private cultural organisations funded by the crown the New Zealand Film Archive, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Aotearoa Traditional Maori Performing Arts Society.

These changes relate to portfolio and departmental responsibility: there is no change to the functions of Crown entities or other organisations outside central government.

I would like to reassure those people who are currently working in these areas that for them it will be business as usual.

I am especially mindful of the need to preserve the constitutional nature of our heritage and ensure our valuable collections remain free from administrative and political interference.

I also see having the cultural aspects of broadcasting and New Zealand on Air united in this portfolio as one of considerable value for the sector.

I believe historic heritage activities and cultural broadcasting are key parts of the cultural heritage sector.

I am looking forward to working with people in all these areas in the very near future.

With our current focus on the new millennium I thought it was fitting to make this announcement at tonight's concert.

We are shortly to see some very fine examples of our own unsurpassed world of drama and literature and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Speaker, the Hon Doug Kidd, for allowing us to have this special evening in Parliament.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

I would also like to say a special thank you to Telecom for their generous sponsorship and magnificent support of our three millennium concerts.

Patronage of the arts continues to be a valuable and viable way of ensuring our cultural history is nurtured, sustained and recorded for future generations.

Government's aim is to complement market mechanisms in order to enable a wider range of artistic works to be produced and presented and to ensure New Zealanders have access to works that reflect, and reflect on, our history, identity and culture.

Telecom is a strong advocate of New Zealand arts. This is demonstrated by its support for programmes such as the Telecom Art Awards and Michael Parmenter's recent dance opera, Jerusalem, and the company's national association with both the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

More recently Telecom has placed a stronger than ever emphasis on contemporary performance reflecting New Zealand's culture and identity, I am delighted this is the case. Thank you.

Tonight we are being treated to an exclusive millennium celebration of New Zealand performance.

First on the programme is, Miss Brill. This is a chamber opera based on Katherine Mansfield's short story of the same name, featuring libretto by Jeremy Commons and music by Dorothy Buchanan.

Excerpts from Jacob Rajan's smash hit play Krishnan's Dairy follows. This is a realistic yet heart-warming look at life behind the counter at a fictitious yet familiar suburban dairy.

Our third offering is excerpts from the play Nga Pou Wahine, written by Briar Grace Smith and performed for us by Grace Hoete.

I am sure this will be a memorable evening's entertainment.

Thank you.

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