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Future-proofing arts, culture and heritage sector to adapt and thrive

Ministers’ release: 31 March 2021

Beehive Media Release

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni today announced the details of the first round of the Cultural Sector Innovation Fund, which includes a new approach to supporting bold ideas. 

The Innovation Fund will be delivered through a nationwide series of events called Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa. This will be a rolling programme of events which will take place in regions across the motu.

“As part of the Government’s $374 million Arts and Culture COVID Recovery Programme, this Innovation Fund will support innovative arts, culture and heritage projects in Aotearoa,” Carmel Sepuloni said. “The Fund also further supports the sector to adapt and thrive.”

“Fittingly for a fund focused on innovation, I’m excited that Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa, provides us with an opportunity to take a different approach to its delivery – one that’s designed to support collaboration.

“I hear a lot of creative ideas from people who are passionate about arts, culture and heritage. This funding aims to bring those ideas to fruition, and comes with an opportunity for the sector to be bold.

“It provides support for the sector to work alongside others to collectively design more sustainable, resilient ways of working, and to remove barriers to access and participation for everyone.

“Over two  and a half days participants in Te Urungi will be supported by mentors and experts to collaborate and develop their ideas. At the end of each event, the most promising projects will receive funding to support their further development.

“There is also a focus on supporting projects that will help safeguard mātauranga Māori while nurturing the innovation potential of this rich system of indigenous knowledge.

“The ambition with Te Urungi is to nurture an ongoing, collaborative ecosystem dedicated to exploring innovative solutions around arts, culture and heritage for the duration of this Fund and beyond,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The name of the events programme, Te Urungi, references the steering paddle of the waka hourua. This paddle guides these ocean-going waka, driving them towards their destination with stability and agility. An apt metaphor for our collective innovation journey.

Registrations are open to teams and individuals who work in arts, culture and heritage, as well as communities, the tech sector, entrepreneurs and others.

We want to hear from anyone who has an idea for an innovative project with the potential to increase sustainability, access and participation or commercial opportunities within the sector.

Face-to-face Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa events will be held around the country, beginning in Te Whanganui-a-Tara the Wellington region on 30 April-2 May. There will also be online events, the first is scheduled for 12 May. Details of further events will be announced as they are confirmed.


Media Contact: Kieran Meredith, 021 817 570

More information:

• Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa is being led by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
• Registrations for the first two events – one in Te Whanganui-a-Tara the Wellington region and one online – will open on 14 April.
• Capacity at the face-to-face events is limited, early registration is encouraged.
• There will be a total of 14 regional events. There will also be online events. Details of each regional event will be announced through the Ministry’s newsletter as they are confirmed.

More information is available at:


Updated on 9th April 2021