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About the cultural sector


New Zealand’s distinctive culture enriches our lives

Our vision recognises that our distinctive culture is a core part of what makes New Zealand a great place to live. Cultural expression is fundamental to a vibrant and healthy society.  Cultural expression defines humanity and New Zealand cultural expression defines 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, will ensure this fundamental feature of New Zealand culture flourishes.

Strong partnerships between iwi-Māori and the Crown are critical to the new 21st century constitutional era emerging from the completion of historical Treaty settlements between iwi-Māori and the Crown. This is changing the context in which government’s investment in our cultural life is occurring, providing fresh opportunities to design policies that support the development of both traditional and new forms of Māori cultural expression and identity as well as access to Māori culture for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Cultural goods and services have value to the individual, society and the economy. The creative and communicative experience intrinsic to cultural goods and services expands individual capacities, helps bind society and provides jobs and innovation in the economy. 

Government makes a significant contribution to the broad cultural sector each year in order to ensure that public value is realised and distributed for all to benefit. In 2014/15, it is investing 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 commemorations.

Earthquake recovery in Canterbury has focused the country’s attention on the contribution our culture, including our built heritage, makes to our sense of nationhood.  New Zealand’s rapid demographic transformation, especially in Auckland, has highlighted the importance of our policies to support the creation, and preservation of, and engagement with, New Zealand’s diverse stories and inclusive identity.


How we use the word “culture"

This Strategic Intentions document 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 Strategic Intentions 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 23rd July 2015