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Launch of National's Culture and Heritage Policy

Speech Notes
Hon Marie Hasler
Minister for Culture and Heritage
Launch of National Culture and Heritage Policy
Lopdell House Gallery, 418 Titirangi Road
11.00am, Friday 5 November 1999

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou, katoa.

Good morning everyone and welcome.

I am especially pleased to welcome Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jenny Shipley, to our launch this morning of National’s Culture and Heritage Policy. Mrs Shipley’s presence both reaffirms her own and National’s commitment to the significance of culture and heritage in our society.

And I am delighted to be launching this policy here in my electorate, as I am unashamedly parochial. I am proud of the great number of wonderful creative artists who live and work here, inspired by the culturally rich environment of the Waitakere ranges.

Titirangi is home to Maurice Shadbolt, perhaps New Zealand’s greatest living novelist, and the Waitakere’s are the haven of Karen Walker, our brilliantly successful, internationally renowned fashion designer. As well we have many superb painters and ceramic crafts people.

Being a New Zealander certainly means having a positive image of one’s place in the world.

As a strong supporter of the arts I have and will continue to work hard to raise the profile of culture and heritage in New Zealand. Coupled with this desire is my belief in a strong national identity.

I believe we need to maintain a form of cultural expression where we speak with out own voices, see ourselves on television, tell our own stories and involve ourselves in our history.

Culture is the way we define ourselves and how we understand our lives. We now want to hear our own unique voice to an unprecedented degree.

And National’s policy for culture and heritage supports this view. National understands what it is to be a New Zealander. National has a strong plan, a clear vision and consistent policy.

National has supported New Zealand’s growing arts and cultural sector more than any previous Government.

Funding through Vote Cultural Affairs has increased 86 percent over the past seven years is a reflection of this commitment.

Expenditure has increased from $19.6 million between 1992/93, to $38 million between 1998/99. In addition a further $266 million has been spent on capital funding for the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Otago Museum and our national museum Te Papa – with an unprecedented number of visitors over the past 18 months Te Papa is indeed our place.

Creative New Zealand was established under the National Government in 1994 to replace the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. This move has streamlined the distribution of funds, more money goes to artists and less is spent on administration.

With its bicultural focus Creative New Zealand ensures the development of our indigenous culture through Te Waka Toi. In addition, the Aotearoa Traditional Maori Performing Arts Society is now directly funded, bringing kapa haka to the centre stage.

National set up the Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 1991 and reinforced its commitment to the sector on 1 September this year with the establishment of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

New Zealand on Air, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, the National Library and the National Archives are all part of the new Ministry. The next step is to establish a Heritage Council to further protect and promote this sector.

Uniting culture and heritage helps us to celebrate, foster and protect our cultural and historical legacy. And through this new Ministry and portfolio, Government will be able to ensure greater promotion of our distinctive identity.

This reflects National’s vision for the future as culture and heritage underpins all we are, as New Zealanders, both socially and economically.

This strengthening of the culture and heritage sector is particularly relevant as we go forward into the new millennium with New Zealanders having several tremendous opportunities to present our unique culture and identity to the world.

Indeed our national identity took central stage at the recent APEC leaders’ conference through the well-chosen locations and supporting art works, the food – a real taste of New Zealand, and the fine entertainment, including our own National Youth Orchestra.

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

National is further encouraging our young people to celebrate their identity by providing radio spectrum for a youth radio. This network will enable young people to express themselves through music, drama and talkback.

National believes broadcasting has an important role to play in reflecting New Zealand’s culture. Funding for NZ On Air of $87 million for 1999/2000 and each of the following two years, to promote New Zealand culture and identity in broadcasting, is guaranteed.

Government is also providing seeding funding of $400,000 to help establish a Music Industry Forum to promote and support New Zealand music, greatly increasing New Zealand music on air.

We are supporting the Forum in its initial stages because popular music is an important element of New Zealand culture. Popular music is a substantial means of self-expression and fulfilment for our young people.

The Forum has the potential to help performers develop their skills and market themselves successfully.

Individual and corporate sponsorship is also encouraged. 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.

This year the New Zealand Arts Foundation, in partnership with the Lottery Grants Board, has been set up with $5 million in funding from the Board, for establishing an endowment fund to support excellence in the arts.

National'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.

A strong economy also encourages the arts to flourish. National supports a low, broad-based taxation regime that leaves more discretionary money in the pockets of artists, entrepreneurs, corporates and patrons.

Culture and economics are intrinsically linked and a prosperous economy both supports our artists and gives people the resources to support arts and culture in their own communities and nationally.

National is committed to supporting those activities, which create and sustain a sense of national cultural identity for all New Zealanders.

National believes that government must take a responsible overview of public investment across the entire range of cultural activity.

National believes the day-to-day decisions, including funding, are best made at arm’s length from government and should also be made by people who know the industry rather than politicians. Independent statutory bodies such as Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission have been established for this reason.

The arts in New Zealand have certainly flourished over the past decade. National’s arms-length policy, which respects artistic freedom, has created the right environment for this to occur.

New Zealand has never been more culturally exciting, nor has our creativity been more prolific.

There are more New Zealand books and novels, more New Zealand poetry and music, and more New Zealand films. This decade has seen the emergence of talent like Kapka Kossabova, Shane Cotton, Gareth Farr, Shihad, Michael Parmenter, Douglas Wright, and the London Fashion Four.

We are a talented and vibrant nation. A nation where our unique culture and heritage is thriving. I want to see this continue.

The National policy for Culture and Heritage is already working for this sector and is a policy that will continue to do so in the future.

Thank you.

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