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Fostering inclusive New Zealand identity - Te whāngai o tō Aotearoa Tuakiri Whakawhāiti

What is the objective?

New Zealanders have a strong sense of attachment to New Zealand, value diversity, and are actively participating in our cultural life and democracy. New Zealand identity is strong globally.

This aspiration is central to all of the Ministry’s work.  A fundamental role for the Ministry is to enable and support the evolution and expression of identity and of a sense of nationhood. Ultimately the Ministry’s work is all about telling our diverse stories to promote and build a sense of belonging, identity and connection.

How we know if this is being achieved



How do we measure this?

Target (from SOI)


Sense of belonging to New Zealand

General Social Survey –

Statistics New Zealand


The survey was conducted in 2016 but results will not be released until 2017. These results will establish the baseline.



Baseline is expected to be set in 2016/17

Ease of expressing identity in New Zealand

General Social Survey –Statistics New Zealand

A question about identity was first included in the General Social Survey in 2014 and has set the baseline for this measure: 86.3% of total population able to express their identity. The results for the 2016 survey will not be released until 2017.



Comparison data not available until 2017

Positive global perceptions of New Zealand


Anholt-Gfk Roper Nation Brands Index

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise no longer makes these results publicly available. The Ministry expects to find a new data source for this measure in 2016/17.



Comparison data not available

New Zealanders who report active participation in arts and culture


New Zealanders and the arts survey – Creative New Zealand

The baseline is 89% based on 2014 results. We expect the next survey to be completed in 2017. Active participation includes attendance and participation in arts and culture.



Comparison data not available until 2017

New Zealanders who report active participation in sport and recreation


Active New Zealand survey:

– Sport New Zealand

The baseline is 74% based on 2013/14 results. We expect the next survey to be completed in 2019/20.


Comparison data not available until 2019/20


Participation in Māori cultural activities

Te Kupenga 2013 –

Statistics New Zealand

The baseline is:

70% of Māori adults say it was at least somewhat important for them to be involved in things to do with Māori culture.


54% of Māori adults thought of their ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae (place of belonging).


62% of Māori adults have been to their ancestral marae and 34% have done so in the last 12 months.


We expect the next survey after the census in 2018.



2015/16 is the baseline year

Use of Māori language

Census 2013: Proportion of Māori able to converse in te reo Māori

- Statistics New Zealand

The baseline is:

55% of Māori adults have some ability to speak te reo Māori.


21.3% of Māori adults can hold a conversation in te reo Māori.


11% of Māori adults could speak te reo Māori very well or well.


The next census is scheduled for 2018.


2015/16 is the baseline year

Measuring success

It is difficult to establish hard measures of success in increasing New Zealanders’ sense of identity and belonging. The Ministry has identified high-level indicators of attachment and identity and of participation in arts, culture and sports that will help to demonstrate long-term trends. Many of these are reliant on surveys or research on three or four-year cycles. We are working with other departments to identify shared indicators. Ultimately we hope to collaboratively develop long-term trend data to enable ongoing analysis.

One way in which New Zealanders build connections and a sense of identity is through active participation in arts, culture and sports. New Zealanders have high levels of reported participation.   

Māori language and culture is central to New Zealand’s culture and identity. The work of the Ministry and its agencies is important in supporting Māori participation in Māori language and culture. It is also important in supporting all other New Zealanders to access and engage with Māori culture and heritage.

The following sets out key initiatives the Ministry progressed in the 2015/16 year that, among other things, helped to foster New Zealand identity.

National Commemorations Programme

Shared commemorative activities are a powerful means of connecting New Zealanders to their collective history, heritage and identity and providing opportunities for participation in cultural events.  The WW100 commemorations continue to be a major focus. At the national level, the opening of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and the events held there have been a highlight, while at the community level hundreds of commemorative local events have been held all around the country. Other non-military commemorations such as the 175th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi and the upcoming Cook 250th anniversary and Women’s Suffrage 125th anniversary also provide opportunities to examine concepts of nationhood and identity.  

Landmarks project and pilot

The Landmarks project recognises the opportunity to tell coherent and compelling New Zealand stories to ourselves and the world, strengthen New Zealand identity and boost regional economies through enhanced tourism experiences. It will deliver quality visitor experiences, better link and tell the stories of our heritage sites, and improve management of our historic and significant heritage sites.

The Landmarks concept was developed in 2015/16, and will be piloted at significant sites in Northland over the summer of 2016/17.  Over time the Landmarks brand will be recognised internationally as representing a quality New Zealand site and compelling cultural story.

Research and publishing

The Ministry creates and presents a wide range of online and printed content that supports New Zealanders’ sense of belonging and identity by telling their individual and collective stories and building understanding of events and issues.  

Te Taiwhakaea, the Treaty Settlement Stories project, supports iwi in telling their stories, and supports all New Zealanders in exploring the history and contemporary place of the Treaty and its central role in our national identity.

Protecting our heritage

The Ministry further supports New Zealanders’ connections with their culture and identity by protecting and caring for significant heritage items and symbols of our national identity. This work involves the protection of newly found taonga tūturu and other historic objects; caring for war graves and memorials; and overseeing the use of national symbols and titles such as our flag, royal emblems and titles, and the term Anzac.

Waitangi National Trust

Updating the arrangements for the Waitangi National Trust Board is a vital part of promoting national identity and participation in arts and culture by enabling New Zealanders’ access to and exploration of places, collections and events of historic and cultural significance. During the year the Ministry supported the passage of the Waitangi National Trust Board Amendment Act 2015 through the House. The Waitangi National Trust Board Amendment Act 2015 amends and modernises governance arrangements for the Waitangi National Trust Board and puts in place new arrangements to ensure a positive future working relationship between the Board and the Crown.


Policies which support how our diverse stories are told on air, in cinemas and across increasingly accessible digital platforms ensure New Zealanders engage with and contribute to those stories.  Key work in this area has included a review of the impact of convergence on the media sector; the enactment of the Radio New Zealand Bill and the allocation of the 106.1FM spectrum band in the Wellington region.

The Ministry’s support for Radio New Zealand International and work with the National Pacific Radio Trust is a key means of connecting Pacific communities in New Zealand and across the Pacific nations. The development of co-production agreements supports our nations’ stories being told both here and internationally. During the year the Ministry concluded two co-production agreements with Poland and Israel and completed negotiation of a third.

Supporting nationhood

Other work with a key focus on exploring and supporting expressions of identity and nationhood includes the Ministry’s collaboration with other departments and cultural agencies in supporting citizenship education.

During the year the Ministry took a strong leadership role in this area. It funded research on education outcomes from student visits to national institutions, funded and facilitated a cross-sector hui on citizenship education, and commissioned research on existing citizenship education resources. Ministry educators presented at the Aotearoa Youth Declaration conference and continued to explore a wide range of themes concerning nationhood, identity and citizenship through the Ministry’s education programme at Pukeahu. 

Other policy work

Other policy work supports the Ministry, its funded agencies, and the wider cultural sector to enhance New Zealanders’ access to and participation in a wide range of arts and cultural activities; to leverage funding and support; to articulate the value of what we do; and to build strategic coherence across the sector. 

The Cultural Diplomacy International Programme supports New Zealand’s reputation and identity internationally. This programme comprises a series of projects and activities primarily focused on Asia and in locations where New Zealand is pursuing free trade agreements. The Ministry managed seven projects during the year (set out on page 33).


Updated on 16th March 2017