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About the Ministry and the cultural sector - Mō te Manatū me te wāhanga tikanga

New Zealand’s distinctive culture enriches our lives


Our vision recognises that our distinctive culture is core to what makes New Zealand a great place in which to live. Cultural expression, engagement and understanding are fundamental to a vibrant and healthy society and help define what it is to be a New Zealander.

Māori culture makes New Zealand unique in a globalised world and is central to our sense of place, identifying us as a nation. Active participation by Māori in distinct te ao Māori activity is important in ensuring Māori culture is protected and flourishes.

Manatū Taonga / the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (the Ministry) is government’s leading adviser on arts, heritage and media policy matters. We fund, monitor and support a range of cultural agencies, and we deliver a range of high-quality cultural products and services.

The Ministry provides advice to government on where to focus its interventions in the cultural sector. We seek to ensure that Vote funding is invested as effectively and efficiently as possible, and that government priorities are met.

The Ministry has a strong track record of producing high-quality culture and heritage content (including websites), managing New Zealand’s significant heritage and commemorations, and acting as guardian of New Zealand’s culture and kaitiaki of New Zealand’s taonga. Our work prioritises cultural outcomes and supports educational, economic and social outcomes, linking with the work of a range of other government agencies.

Culture is created, produced and distributed by creative and innovative individuals, groups and organisations. Cultural activities, goods and services have a value which is cultural, social and economic - expanding individual capacities, helping bind society and providing jobs and innovation in the economy. Access to world-class arts and culture inspires and enriches us as individuals and a society.

Government makes a significant contribution to the broad cultural sector each year in order to ensure that public value is realised and distributed for the benefit of everyone. In 2014/15, the Ministry invested almost $400 million in arts, heritage, media and sport through Vote Arts, Culture and Heritage and Vote Sport and Recreation.  Additional support to the cultural sector is provided through other public sources including the education sector and local government. The cultural sector contributes to achieving positive outcomes across a wide range of other government portfolios outside the sector. Inter-agency collaboration is making a number of large projects possible such as the First World War Centenary (WW100) commemorations.

How we use the word “culture”    

The Ministry uses the word “culture” in a broad way to include Māori culture and the cultures of all New Zealanders. When we refer to culture we see it as including arts, heritage, media, and sport and recreation.

What we include in the “cultural sector” and “funded agencies”

When this Annual Report document refers to the “cultural sector” we are referring to the mixed (private and public) economy of producers, distributors, consumers and funders of cultural goods and services. “Funded agencies” refers only to those agencies funded directly through the Ministry under Vote Arts, Culture and Heritage and Vote Sport and Recreation.


Updated on 3rd December 2015