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Open Letter To Increase Te Matatini Funding Delivered To Government

Te Pāti Māori have today delivered an open letter to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage Hon Kiritapu Allen, calling to immediately increase funding to Te Matatini which was yet again underfunded in this year’s Budget.

After receiving a $1million annual increase, Te Matatini will now see $2.9 million per year. Compare this to the Royal New Zealand Ballet, who will receive $8.1m per year, or the Symphony Orchestra who will be given $19.7 million in tax dollars per year, and the inequities become very clear.

Everywhere we look, the numbers do not add up. On every measure, Te Matatini has been valued less than the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet and it is unacceptable. Te Pāti Māori stand with Te Matatini and all other kapa haka rōpū across the motu who are fed up with the continued second class treatment of Māori arts.

The full letter, which received 4,950 signature from individuals, iwi, and kapa haka rōpū, can be read below:

Tēnā koe e te Minita

We are writing to you in response to the recent Budget announcement that saw an increase of $1 million annually to Te Matatini. We share in the disappointment expressed by Te Matatini and all other Kapahaka across the motu and request that you immediately increase funding to Te Matatini.

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The Budget 2022 estimates and appropriations document for Te Matatini, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) and the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), highlights that “This appropriation is intended to achieve world-class performances that reflect our culture, identity and traditions for New Zealand and international audiences.”

Of the three “Performing Arts Services”, Te Matatini is the most authentic expression of that statement but is funded significantly less than the other two.

We would like to draw your attention to the gross inequality of funding distribution across the three Performing Arts services. Please see below a table highlighting audience participation rates across Performing Arts Services for the year 2019.

Table 1: Audience participation rates 2019
 Audience ReachedAnnual Government Funding$ value per audience member
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO)84, 480$16,491,000$195.20
Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB)59, 052$7, 025,000$118. 96
Te Matatini1,392,534
(41,997 in-person + 1,350,537 online)
Note: Te Matatini is the only service provider who is required to have a television and online presence of 1 million

Based on the figures above, there is a significant difference in the dollar value per audience member across services, with the NZSO receiving $195.20 per audience member and Te Matatini receiving only $1.39 per audience member. If Te Matatini was funded at the same rate of $195.20 per audience member, Te Matatini would receive an annual budget of $271 million.

The table below, represents the number of performances in 2020 by each service provider.

Table 2: Performances by Service Provider in 2020
 PerformancesAnnual Government Funding$ value per performance
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra2216,491,000$749,590.00
Royal New Zealand Ballet187, 025,000$390,277.00
Te Matatini1291,948,000$15,100.00

In 2020, the NZSO was funded $749,590.00 per performance. Te Matatini was funded only $15,100.00 per performance. If Te Matatini was paid at the same performance rate as the NZSO, Te Matatini would be demanding an annual budget of $137 million.

Everywhere we look, the numbers do not add up. On every measure, Te Matatini is valued less than the NZSO and the RNZB and it is unacceptable.

Te Matatini is an international event that showcases, on average, the top 46 Kapahaka in the world, with approximately 2,070 (based on an average of 45 kaihaka per team) of the greatest exponents of our art and culture competing at the highest level. This international event is trailed by 12 regionally hosted events, boasting an average of 129 kapahaka across the country and a total of approximately 5805 performers. These figures exclude the audiences and performances of Kapahaka in everyday life; in organisations, in schools, on the Marae and in other institutions. These figures also exclude the hundreds of unpaid composers, choreographers, instrumentalists and tutors and the thousands of volunteers, who are the backbone of each kapa and every single festival.

Te Matatini and Te Ao Haka is not just a dance. Performers of Kapahaka, at the highest level of excellence are those who inspire our babies, our rangatahi and our people to be proud to be Māori. That in the face of racism and oppression; our stories of triumph, of pain and of survival are carried through our indigenous expression. Kapahaka validates and celebrates our indigenous being, our connection to our tipuna, our connection to our whakapapa and our connection to the future we dream of.

You see Minister, funding Te Matatini, is not only funding the highest standard of performance excellence only to be found in Aotearoa. It’s not just about the social and economic return on investment. You are also funding the reconnection to whakapapa, the reinstatement of identity, of belief and of belonging. You are funding the restoration of Te Reo Māori and the repository of Mātauranga Māori. You are funding the re-indigenisation of Māori; you are funding a Māori mental health strategy, a Māori education strategy and a Māori physical health strategy.

We are calling for the Government to increase the budget for Te Matatini immediately to $19 million. This figure is fair and equitable and is what Te Pāti Māori has advocated for in our Toi Māori Policy.

Let us be clear, we do not want to take away from the NZSO or the RNZB, as we believe in and acknowledge the significance of their craft and how their art contributes the world. Instead, we demand that the Government affords Te Ao Haka with the same value.

© Scoop Media

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