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Key roles & responsibilities

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage leads government work in the arts, heritage, broadcasting and sports sectors.  We provide advice on legislation, policy, and sector development to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Broadcasting, Communications & Digital Media and the Minister for Sport and Recreation.

Arts, culture, heritage, media and sports are part of our everyday lives, yet they lift us out of the everyday. They express who we are individually and collectively. Engagement with our heritage tells us where we’ve come from and informs where we are going. Cultural expression is central to a vibrant, healthy society. Cultural expression also reflects and reinforces what it means to be a New Zealander, helping to build connection and cohesion. This is incredibly important.

We connect people from all walks of life to our culture and heritage and bring our past to life in many ways. The Ministry’s websites had more than 10 million hits, with our comprehensive encyclopedia Te Ara recording 5,971,813 and NZHistory recording 3,659,220 for the 2016/17 year. The Walking with an Anzac schools resource, through the WW100 programme, has seen 800 school visits and 5,900 factsheets downloaded by teachers. Grants of $10.827 million from the Regional Culture and Heritage  Fund  have  gone  to  support  cultural  institutions  throughout  the  country  and  the  newly established Heritage EQUIP fund, $12 million over four years, is supporting heritage building owners to  earthquake  strengthen  them.  Further  afield  the  Cultural  Diplomacy  International  Programme, backing New Zealand’s reputation and identity internationally, saw support for the Venice Biennale and the Indian Ink theatre company’s tour of India.

The Ministry works with  national cultural agencies such as NZ On Air, Creative New Zealand, the New Zealand Film Commission, and Te Papa Tongarewa. We administer their funding, monitor their activities and support appointees to their boards.

Critical to our future strategy is our relationship with the Treaty partner; how we engage with Māori, as well as how we connect New Zealanders with Māori culture. We have Treaty settlement protocols and relationship arrangements with more than 50 iwi, hapū and whānau groups and have developed an innovative framework with Te Papa, Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision and the DIA to collaborate on these. We’ve also had input into the development of the Māori language strategy and given advice on  Māori  heritage  sites,  taonga  tuturū,  Māori  arts  and  performance  and  commemorations  for Waitangi Day. The successful biennial Te Matatini festival held in Hastings in 2017 has tremendous economic and social benefits which sit alongside its cultural aspirations. We are also deep into the planning for the commemorations of the 250th anniversary of the first on-shore meetings between Pākehā and Māori through the First Encounters 250 programme.

Agencies we fund

We also support and promote New Zealand culture with our own services, grants, and products.  We maintain war graves and national memorials, including the National War Memorial.  We award grants for regional museum projects, historical research, and Waitangi Day celebrations.  We  publish histories of state activity and research reports. The Ministry also maintains several heritage websites including Te Ara and NZHistory.

Our history books

Websites we run

The Ministry’s programme of print and, increasingly, on-line publishing continues apace, with work progressing on a number of histories relating to New Zealand’s experience of the First World War.

Our experience of conflict is a major determinant of our identity as New Zealanders. Equally significant in our distinctive history and heritage is the Crown-Māori relationship. Reflecting this, the Ministry has initiated a major project charting the history of the Treaty Settlement process and has partnered with the Ministry of Justice to undertake this important work.

The Ministry administers key cultural and heritage legislation, including the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981 (to protect objects and symbols of national identity) and the  Protected Objects Act 1975 (to protect taonga tūturu).

The Ministry provides a cultural perspective for the work of other government departments. We lead the Cultural Diplomacy International Programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Tourism New Zealand

The centenary of the First World War is an opportunity for New Zealanders to reconnect with one of the most significant events in our history. The Ministry is involved in a very constructive partnership with other government agencies in commemorating the centenary. The centrepiece is the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, which opened in April 2015.  During the centenary commemoration period between 2014 and 2019 there will be a full programme of activities throughout the country.

Protected Objects

Cultural Diplomacy International Programme

WW100 website

Te Taiwhakaea: Treaty Settlement Stories


Updated on 7th May 2018