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Introduction from the Chief Executive

Introduction from the Chief Executive

The Minister has noted the current challenging fiscal environment and its implications for the way government operates across the public sector.  As Chief Executive of Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, my response is two fold.

Culture cannot be exempt from the constraints applied elsewhere.   We cannot view culture as special and rarefied and exempt from the rules applied in other parts of government.  The cultural sector operates in the same environment as others.

Further, culture is indisputably part of the business of government, supporting other government goals. This Statement of Intent demonstrates how government, through the Ministry, invests in cultural activity to achieve both cultural and other goals.

Commemorations marking the First World War centenary, assistance with the cultural recovery of Christchurch, support for New Zealanders to make the switch to digital television, arrangements to protect taonga – these and other streams of Ministry work demonstrate government’s responsibility to help us maintain a sense of ourselves, what we hold to be important and how we define our identity.  New Zealand’s distinctiveness is enhanced by the hands-on work of Manatū Taonga and the cultural agencies funded through Ministry-managed Votes. 

In addition to the richness gained through our shared cultural experience, culture also contributes to the nation’s wealth. This Statement of Intent, for example, points to the potential for new technologies - digital and web-based cultural products - to generate income within the cultural sector and beyond.

Cultural activity has the potential to bring big economic benefits to New Zealand.   This goes beyond taking part in the world’s largest book fair; it uses a cultural vehicle to showcase the best of New Zealand Inc, boosting our trade and tourism.  We are working with a number of partners on this important project.

Partnering – or the ‘joined up’ government referred to by the Minister – is a catch cry the cultural sector knows well and continues to prioritise.  Planning documents for our sector will increasingly highlight initiatives that ensure cultural agencies are working together towards common strategic goals. The Ministry is active in this space.  For example, we have initiated a Heritage Forum in which a number of departments and cultural agencies are engaged.

In the longer term, the cultural agencies supported by government may well share a single plan.  That’s a goal I have asked my staff to keep in mind.  For now, this document reflects the Ministry’s approach to supporting government’s support for our vibrant cultural sector as effectively as possible.

Lewis Holden

Chief Executive
Manatū Taonga / Ministry for Culture and Heritage


Updated on 23rd July 2015