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Part 1: Crown Governance - The devolved model

Part 1: Crown Governance

The devolved model

What is it?

Throughout the public sector and in the cultural sector in particular, some responsibilities of government are devolved to agencies. Normally these are Crown entities and are covered by the Crown Entities Act 2004 but they can also be independent organisations that have a Crown connection. All these agencies have an obligation to operate legally, financially and ethically in a manner consistent with their status as public or other organisations receiving substantial taxpayer funding.

Why is this model common in the cultural sector?

Successive governments have taken the view that cultural activities undertaken by the state should be seen as operating, day to day, independently of Ministers. That means that within the confines of the relevant laws and enabling documents (such as Deeds of Trust or Incorporated Society constitutions), the decisions about the way our culture should be supported should be made by properly informed and qualified persons.

Government’s support in the cultural sector through its entities

In 1975 a ministerial portfolio for the Arts was established and, around 15 years ago, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, now known as the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, was formed. A brief survey of the Government’s historical role in the Cultural sector written in 2008 is included in the Appendix. On behalf of Ministers, the Ministry funds or has a relationship with the boards listed under the MCH family (refer to previous page). For monitoring and support purposes, the boards are divided into the categories of Arts, Heritage, (public) Broadcasting and Sports. There are now around 25 boards in the Crown cultural sector with which the Ministry has a relationship and to whom all or some of the characteristics of the devolved model apply.

Devolved does not mean divorced

The fact that there are entities under the devolved model does not mean that ministers can divorce themselves from all responsibility. The constitutional framework of New Zealand results in Ministers still being accountable. For Crown entities this has been underlined by the Crown Entities Act. Board members need to be constantly aware of this ‘ownership interest’ that Ministers have. A brief overview of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements is contained in the appendix.

The crucial role of the board

The government must be able to have confidence in the performance of these agencies and in particular their boards. A skilled and committed board is crucial to the success of these entities whether they are formally or informally connected to the Crown.

This e-manual is aimed at helping provide board members of our family (refer to list) with the relevant knowledge, information and best practice references and resources to be part of a skilled and committed board.


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Updated on 7th October 2019