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7. International cultural co-operation

7.1 Cultural Diplomacy International Programme

The Cultural Diplomacy International Programme aims to help establish and/or maintain a New Zealand cultural presence in key overseas regions or countries to boost New Zealand’s profile and economic, trade, tourism, diplomatic and cultural interests.

The Programme's objectives are to: project in targeted settings a distinctive profile of New Zealand as a creative and diverse society with a unique, contemporary culture strongly rooted in its diverse heritage; and to enhance understanding of and engagement with New Zealand among government and business leaders in target regions.

7.2 The Hague Convention

The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was adopted at The Hague in 1954. It emerged as a result of the massive destruction of cultural heritage in the Second World War. Broadly, the convention obliges States Parties to protect all cultural property, in their own or other countries, in the event of armed conflict. As of April 2010, 123 countries were State Parties to the convention, including Australia, Canada, China, Russia, the US and most EU nations.

New Zealand signed the Convention in 1954, but did not ratify it until July 2008. The government stated that ratification was important as it sent “an important message regarding New Zealand’s commitment to the protection of cultural property”.

New Zealand cannot accede to the 1954 and 1999 protocols to the Hague Conventions until various domestic requirements are satisfied. To achieve this, the Cultural Property (Protection in Armed Conflict) Bill was introduced to Parliament in 2008.  On 6 December 2012,  the Cultural Property (Protection in Armed Conflict) Bill was passed by the House and came into force on 1 July 2013. You can view the relevant legislation and regulations on our Legislation page.

In October 2013, former Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson was at the headquarters of the UN’s Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO), where he formally deposited New Zealand’s treaty documents to join the Protocols to the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Culture in the event of Armed Conflict.

7.3 Other Cultural Activity


New Zealand has formal government-to-government cultural agreements with France and Italy.  The agreement with France resulted in the establishment of a France/New Zealand Mixed Cultural, Scientific, Technical and Education Commission.

New Zealand has an informal cultural agreement with the People’s Republic of China to facilitate cultural exchanges.

Its participation in the four-yearly Pacific Arts Festival is overseen by a governmental committee, including the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

The New Zealand Japan Exchange Programme, which fosters educational contacts between the two countries, and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Scheme also have a cultural component.

New Zealand’s Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage is a member of the Australian Cultural Ministers Council, a forum that enables the Australian cultural Ministers - federal, state and territories - to meet annually and discuss policy issues.

New Zealand is an active member of UNESCO, whose New Zealand office is based in the Ministry of Education; New Zealand is currently on the executive board.  New Zealand is also a member of the UNESCO-affiliated International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM).

As at May 2017, New Zealand currently has 17 bilateral film co-production agreements with Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The New Zealand Film Commission's Co-Production webpage.

Updated on 22nd October 2019