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2. Administrative and institutional structures

2.1 Government departments

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The government department with primary responsibility for the cultural sector is the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The Ministry was established in 1991 (as the Ministry of Cultural Affairs), with a mandate to achieve the following outcomes:

The most efficient use of public resources to maximise understanding and appreciation of, access to and participation in New Zealand culture, and to promote the enhancement of New Zealand’s cultural identity.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage provides advice to the New Zealand government on culture and heritage matters. It assists government in its provision and management of cultural resources for the benefit of all New Zealanders, and undertakes a number of activities that support and promote the history and heritage of our country.

The Ministry is responsible to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. It is also charged with advising and providing services to the Minister for Broadcasting and Media, in relation to broadcasting issues and the Minister for Sport and Recreation, in relation to Crown-funded sports agencies.

The Ministry is primarily funded by the Government. The Ministry is primarily funded by the Government. In the 2022/23 financial year we will administer approximately $640,723 million for Vote Arts, Culture and Heritage and $95.193 million for Vote Sport and Recreation.


The Ministry is responsible for:

  • the provision of policy advice on arts, culture, heritage and broadcasting issues (in particular non commercial broadcasting), as determined in consultation with Ministers, including legislation, major policy proposals, and developments and initiatives which have significance to the sector;
  • the management and disbursement of payments to a number of arts, heritage, broadcasting and sports sector organisations, and the monitoring of the Crown's interests in these organisations;
  • the provision of other negotiated services to Ministers, including the preparation of replies to ministerial correspondence, and general services which assist Ministers in discharging their portfolio obligations to Parliament;
  • the research, writing and publication of New Zealand history; the administration of grants and the provision of advice about New Zealand history;
  • the management of national monuments, war and historic graves; the administration of the Protected  Objects Act 1975;
  • the administration of legislation relating to the symbols and emblems of New Zealand sovereignty (including the administration of the New Zealand Flag, New Zealand National Anthems and the New Zealand Coat of Arms) and to commemorative days;
  • the administration of the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund, Heritage EQUIP and the Government Indemnity to Museums policies.
  • The development, production and maintenance of a number of websites focusing on New Zealand culture including Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand and NZHistory.
Relationships with Other Organisations

The Ministry administers government funding to a number of statutory bodies in the cultural sector, and manages the Crown's relationship with them.  These organisations are:

which are responsible to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage;

which are responsible to the Minister of Broadcasting; and

which are responsible to the Minister for Sport and Recreation.

The Ministry also manages the Crown's relationship with the following cultural agencies, which receive ongoing government funding in return for the provision of services, but which have not been established by statute and are not owned by the Crown:

In 2003 the government provided ongoing funding to support the work of the Antarctic Heritage Trust to undertake conservation work and planning for key historic sites in the Ross Dependency.

The Ministry manages, or assists in the management of, the Crown's relationship with other organisations in which it has an interest. These include the National War Memorial Advisory Council, which advises the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage on all matters pertaining to the memorial; the Te Māori Manaaki Taonga Trust, which supports the training of Māori in the care and display of taonga Māori, using funds ensuing from the Te Māori exhibition of the 1980s; the Pukaki Trust, which was established by the government in 2001 to ensure the care of this important taonga; and the Advertising Standards Authority.

In collaboration with Statistics New Zealand, the government’s statistics department, the Ministry developed a framework to collect and publish cultural statistics. (See section 6, "Cultural Development".)

The portfolio of Arts, Culture and Heritage is involved in several international memberships or agreements. In addition, the Ministry serves on interdepartmental committees concerned with international relations. (See section 7, "International Cultural Co-operation".)

In addition to the Ministry, several other government departments have cultural sector responsibilities. These are as follows.

  • The Department of Internal Affairs has responsibility for Archives New Zealand and the National Library.
  •  The Department of Conservation is responsible for the management and conservation of land-based cultural sites on conservation land.  (see section 2.2 below, "National cultural-sector agencies"). It also administers New Zealand’s membership of the World Heritage Convention.
  • Te Puni Kokiri advises government on all aspects of policy affecting Māori, including cultural policy. In 2000, responsibility for Māori broadcasting, including Te Māngai Pāho, was transferred from the Ministry of Economic Development  to Te Puni Kokiri.
  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides policy advice on regulatory issues in relation to broadcasting. It also provides policy advice on radio spectrum issues in relation to non-commercial broadcasting and Māori broadcasting.
    • The main legislative vehicle for managing the radio spectrum in New Zealand is the Radiocommunications Act 1989 and its associated Regulations.  New Zealand's regime for managing the radio spectrum was unique at the time of the passing of the Act in 1989.  New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce a regime of tradable spectrum rights.  Many other countries now operate similar spectrum regimes to that pioneered in New Zealand.  The Ministry allocates spectrum for commercial purposes under this regime.
  • Advice on the government's ownership interests in relation to broadcasting, that is, issues affecting the government's interests as the owner of Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand, is provided by the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit, a branch of the Treasury.
  • The National Library of New Zealand is the official repository for all New Zealand publications.  The role of the National Library is to collect and maintain literature and information resources that relate to New Zealand and the Pacific, to make this information readily available and to preserve the documentary heritage of the country for future generations.  The Alexander Turnbull Library is a specialist area of the Library where heritage materials are preserved, and can be accessed with the assistance of curators and specialist librarians.
  • The Ministry of Education also plays an important cultural role through the development and implementation of curriculum statements.  The Tertiary Education Commission funds  tertiary education including the training of teachers and the funding of the Schools of Dance and Drama.  (See section 4.2, "Cultural education and training".)
2.2 National cultural-sector agencies

The following are the national cultural-sector agencies owned and/or supported by the New Zealand Government.  Unless otherwise noted, their governing boards are appointed by government.  For a list of the Acts controlling (where applicable) these agencies and other aspects of the cultural sector, see section 3.2 "Legislation".

  • The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa (known as Creative New Zealand) is required by statute to "encourage, promote and support the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders".  Creative New Zealand makes grants to companies, individuals and national and community projects in literature, theatre, music, opera, the visual arts, crafts, dance, multi-media and experimental film and video (and combinations of these art forms).  The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 2014 was passed on 29 January 2014 and commenced on 01 May 2014.
  • The New Zealand Film Commission is responsible for encouraging the making and distribution of New Zealand films and the development of New Zealand films.  It is not a producer of films, but supports their production through investment, and marketing; and through support for infrastructural and development initiatives.
  • The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is New Zealand’s national, full-time professional touring orchestra.  It was part of the state broadcasting structure until 1988, when it became a limited liability company owned by the Crown.  In 2004 the Orchestra became a Crown Entity.  The Ministers for Arts Culture and Heritage, is responsible for the orchestra.   The principal objectives of Orchestra are
    • to provide the public of New Zealand with live and recorded performances of symphonic music performed to an international standard:
    • to provide an orchestra that—
      • is highly skilled and artistically imaginative; and
      • has strong community support:
    • to be a leading New Zealand performing arts organisation with a role in the development of a distinctively New Zealand cultural environment:
    • to promote and encourage New Zealand musical composition and composers:
    • to provide performance opportunities for New Zealand musicians, whether as members of the orchestra or as soloists.
  • The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, now known as Te Papa, was established by statute in 1992, replacing the former National Museum and National Art Gallery.  Its purpose, as stated in its Act, is to "provide a forum in which the nation may present, explore, and preserve both the heritage of its cultures and knowledge of the natural environment in order to better understand the past, enrich the present and meet the challenges of the future". The public areas of the Museum are housed in a new building on the Wellington waterfront that opened to the public in February 1998.
  • Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collects, preserves and exhibits New Zealand’s moving image heritage. The Archive is a charitable trust, independent of government.  It appoints its own Board of Trustees.
  • NZ On Air promotes and foster the development of New Zealand’s culture on the airwaves by funding locally made television programmes, public radio networks and access radio, and promotes New Zealand music by funding music videos, recordings and radio shows.  (See also section 5.3, "Broadcasting".)
  • Heritage New Zealand (formerly New Zealand Historic Places Trust - Pouhere Taonga) was established by an Act of Parliament in 1954.   As from April 2014, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust is now Heritage New Zealand.  The new name is one of a number of changes included in the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act which was passed in May 2014 effectively completing the organisation’s transition from NGO to Crown Entity.
  • The Māori Language Commission (Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori) was set up under the Māori Language Act 1987 to promote the use of Māori as a living language and as an ordinary means of communication both within and outside government.  Māori has the status of an official language of New Zealand.
  • Te Māngai Pāho is a Crown Entity established under the Broadcasting Amendment Act 1993 in recognition of the Crown’s responsibilities regarding the Māori language and Māori culture in broadcasting
    • Te Māngai Pāho makes funding available to providers for the production of Māori language television programmes, especially on the two-channel Māori Television Service, Māori language music CD’s and to the Māori radio stations around the country.
  • TVNZ is New Zealand's biggest free-to-air broadcaster and is also the nation's public television broadcaster. It operates five channels, TVONE, TV2, TVONE plus 1, TV2 plus 1 and Duke.  The former State Owned Enterprise became a Crown entity company under the Television New Zealand Act 2003 and the Crown Entities Act 2004.  The TVNZ Act split TVNZ into two entities one with responsibility for providing television programmes reflecting and fostering New Zealand’s identity and culture and the other with responsibility for transmission.  Under the Act its role is to reflect and explore what it means to be a New Zealander.
  • Whakaata Māori was founded under the Māori Television Service Act 2003 (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori). Passed in May 2003, the Act established the Service as a statutory corporation. The aim of Whakaata Māori is to provide independent, secure and successful Māori TV channels making and broadcasting programmes that make a significant contribution to the revitalisation of tikanga (customs) and reo Māori (Māori language). Under its Act the channel is required to:
    • be a high quality, cost effective television provider which informs, educates and entertains;
    • broadcast mainly in reo Māori ; and
    • have regard to the needs of children participating in immersion education and all people learning Māori .

Two Ministers of the Crown are responsible for the channel: the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Minister of Finance. 

  • Radio New Zealand Limited is a public broadcasting organisation serving listeners throughout New Zealand.  Its role is to provide comprehensive, authoritative and independent broadcasting of the highest possible standards, as detailed in the Radio NZ Charter. It is a Crown entity, established by the Radio New Zealand Act 1995.  There are two shareholding Ministers: the Minister responsible for Radio New Zealand and the Minister of Finance. The Governor-General appoints a Board of Governors on the recommendations of the shareholding Ministers.

Updated on 1st July 2022