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Chief Executive's Forward and Statement of Responsibility

Chief Executive’s Foreword and Statement of Responsibility

New Zealanders are justly proud of our cultural successes, for despite the small size of our population and economy, we enjoy an enviable vitality and diversity. Our cultural identity is important to us, especially our Māori heritage. We want to experience our own unique stories and triumphs – whether on the screen, the stage, the page or the sports field.

But popular support for the cultural sector can shift and change, and culture itself is not static. To survive and prosper, the cultural sector must not only adapt to shifts in consumer response and changed circumstances, they must also play a part in determining and leading those shifts and changes.

In our small domestic market, even high-quality and popular cultural experiences cannot be sustained without public funding – but constrained resources and competing priorities will always limit the amount government can invest in culture and sport. And the recent Christchurch earthquake will have a profound impact on the Government’s priorities for the foreseeable future.

This environment presents challenges to both the cultural sector and government. We have a responsibility to make sure our cultural experiences are sufficiently appealing and relevant to justify public funding. We also need to ensure that the ways in which government delivers its cultural support are as sensible and efficient as possible.

We are used to operating with limited resources, but we must do more to increase efficiency and reduce duplication. That means active consideration of whether the current arrangements are the right ones. I expect Manatū Taonga to be well-informed about what is happening culturally so that the Ministry can lead the sector in ensuring that valued activities are sustained and we pursue desired outcomes and new opportunities.

New Zealand’s cultural sector is already actively searching for new markets and finding new ways to engage with audiences. New technologies can allow us to add depth to cultural experiences, distribute products in different ways, and attract support more effectively. Soon almost everyone will be connected to the Internet all the time. Smartphones will give us tailored advice about what’s on locally and we will be able to download information about a historic place just by pointing a camera. Rising to this digital challenge is a key requirement for the cultural sector.

Manatū Taonga will also work with the sector to increase the value that culture can bring to other domains, such as education, the economy and social development. I do not see this as a matter of either cultural objectives orother objectives being achieved: both can be pursued simultaneously. We can celebrate the artistic success of our orchestras or theatres, and also look to apply those skills to improving educational results. We can enjoy watching a New Zealand story in Boy, and also relish its international success and its contribution to growth in our film industry.

The sector has been cautious about claiming that it contributes to broader goals, perhaps wary of those who take a purely financial view of “return on investment”. This needs to change. There is growing evidence of the importance of cultural experiences to economic, educational and social outcomes. But it is not enough to make general assertions about the value of cultural engagement. We can’t argue that participation in the arts improves educational achievement without a sound grasp of art forms, contexts and learners. While cultural and heritage attractions have significant potential for tourism and other sectors of the economy, we need a better understanding of how and in what circumstances this potential can be realised. Some of our heritage attractions can fall short of tourist expectations, even when those tourists rate the authenticity of those attractions highly. We need to be in a position to evaluate these things critically but with an
open mind.

In short, we need to develop a more targeted approach, backed by more sophisticated evaluation. We will continue to measure success in cultural terms, but we also need to gather and use information about the sector’s contribution to non-cultural outcomes.

Lewis Holden
Chief Executive
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Statement of responsibility

In signing this statement, I acknowledge that I am responsible for the information contained in the Statement of Intent for Manatū Taonga / the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. This information has been prepared in accordance with the Public Finance Act 1989. It is also consistent with the proposed appropriations set out in the Appropriations (2011/12 Estimates Bill), as presented to the House of Representatives in accordance with section 13 of the Public Finance Act 1989, and with the existing appropriations and financial authorities.

Lewis Holden
Chief Executive
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Updated on 23rd July 2015