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The Ministry works to enrich the lives of all New Zealanders by promoting a confident and connected culture. We believe that the more New Zealanders value their culture and heritage, the more they’ll take part in producing and consuming culture.

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Culture reflects, connects and inspires us, telling the story of who we are as a country. Culture is also vital to individual and community wellbeing and resilience, creating thriving and connected communities.

We established a new common purpose: He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata – promoting a confident and connected culture. Together with new values and behaviours – manawanui (act courageously), matakite (see ahead), mana tāngata (care together), mahara (think, be curious) and manaaki (serve with pride) this describes our collective understanding of what we do and how we do it.

We employ some of New Zealand’s leading historians – it’s their work you’ll see in our print publications and on our websites – but we also support other agencies working towards cultural goals. In support of Suffrage 125 we published new online content, such as History of Women, the Vote and Activism in New Zealand, on our NZHistory site. And progress with the Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories project saw the launch in late 2018 of the first iwi audio-visual resources, focusing on the Ngāti Awa settlement story.

Caretakers of our taonga

We have a key role in military commemorations which saw an estimated 50,000 people present at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and surrounding streets on Anzac Day 2015. Pukeahu National War Memorial Park continues to be a focus for us all to reflect on this country’s contribution in times of conflict. The four-year renovation of the National Carillon completed the multimillion dollar restoration and earthquake strengthening of the National War Memorial.

Our heritage advisers help to protect and preserve New Zealand’s national monuments, memorials, war graves and national symbols, and work within the Protected Objects legislation that safeguards our movable heritage. The Regional Culture and Heritage Fund has supported 13 cultural organisations to complete capital projects with $24.333 million in funding since 2016; these include the Nelson School of Music, the Meteor Theatre in Hamilton and the award winning Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton. Alongside this the Heritage EQUIP programme assisted private building owners to earthquake strengthen buildings with $2 million in grants from Napier and Whanganui to Hurunui and Oamaru.

We are involved with the Tohu Whenua project which aims to identify the most iconic New Zealand places to protect and promote.

Working across government

Our policy advisers work with other government agencies to develop cultural initiatives such as statistical reports, capital funding for regional museums, and building international awareness of New Zealand through the Cultural Diplomacy International Programme. We also have a role in the education sector, with our high quality culture and heritage content websites such as Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand and NZHistory supporting the school history curriculum. 

The programme office for WW100 is housed in the Ministry, and is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand Defence Force and the Department of Internal Affairs.The WW100 Programme has helped people engage with the events of the First World War, a war which had a deep and lingering impact on our society. In 2018 the Walking with an Anzac educational resource, including discovery boxes containing First World War ephemera and digital support information, was distributed to 1000 classrooms. Feedback indicates it’s been a huge success with teachers and students.

The Ministry is working closely with Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Taura Whiri and other agencies on the development of the Maihi Karauna - the Government’s new Māori Language Strategy to revitalise te reo Māori, one of the official languages of New Zealand. The National Archival and Library Institutions (NALI) Ministerial Group is established and has met several times to consider how we might strengthen the contribution that national libraries and archives can make to New Zealand’s culture and democracy. We’re also accountable to our Ministers and support a number of Crown-funded cultural agencies.

We have established the Cabinet mandated Ministerial Advisory Group on public media to start the process of strengthening New Zealand’s public media system. Funding of $15 million in Budget 2018 has kick-started this work.

Related webpages

Our Ministers

Ministry Leadership Team

Our work units


Updated on 11th January 2019