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Our Ministers

We provide advice on legislation, policy and sector development to our Ministers for the following portfolios:

Arts, Culture and Heritage (Beehive)

Media and Communications (Beehive)

Minister: Hon Paul Goldsmith

Sport and Recreation (Beehive)

Minister: Hon Chris Bishop

Parliamentary Under-Secretary

Jenny Marcroft MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Media and Communications.

Media and Communications (Beehive)

Briefings to Incoming Ministers (BIMs)

We provide Briefings to Incoming Ministers (BIMs) to new Ministers following a general election or a change in Minister. They provide an introduction to each portfolio, an overview of key areas of policy, and information on Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Overarching briefing for the incoming Ministers for Arts, Culture and Heritage 2023

Briefing for the incoming Ministers for Media and Communications 2023

Our roles and responsibilities

Arts, culture, heritage, media and sports are part of our everyday lives  

We work in a cultural system that contributes $14.9 billion to New Zealand’s GDP (4.2% of total GDP), over 115,000 jobs and 36,000 businesses covering screen production to symphonies, broadcasting to ballet, kapa haka to heritage, and more.  

With our partners – iwi and hapū Māori, public sector agencies and our funded agencies – we connect local communities to cultural experiences to enrich our collective knowledge.  

Our cultural system funds and tells stories reflecting who New Zealanders are today, helping us navigate our future and building the inclusive and cohesive country we want our tamariki to grow up in and call home.  

Strategic Intentions 2021-2025

Koromakinga Rautaki Strategic Intentions 2021-2025 sets out our new strategic framework — a framework that places the people of Aotearoa New Zealand at the heart of our work.

Connecting people to our culture and heritage and bringing our past to life

We work with national cultural agencies such as NZ On Air, Creative New Zealand, the New Zealand Film Commission and Te Papa Tongarewa. We administer their funding, monitor their activities and support appointees to their boards.  

Entities overview

We administer key cultural and heritage legislation, including the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981 which protects objects and symbols of national identity, and the Protected Objects Act 1975 which protects taonga tūturu.  

Flags, anthems and emblems

Our historical resources and websites include our comprehensive encyclopaedia of New Zealand - Te Ara, NZHistory, Te Tai Whakaea and 28th Māori Battalion.  

History resources

Critical to our future strategy is our relationship with Treaty partners  

We have Treaty settlement protocols and relationship arrangements with more than 50 iwi, hapū and whānau groups. We’ve also contributed to the development of the Crown Māori language strategy and advise on Māori heritage sites, taonga tuturū, Māori arts and performance, Waitangi Day commemorations and the Matariki public holiday.  

We support the successful biennial Te Matatini festival which has wide-ranging economic and social benefits alongside its cultural aspirations.  

Te Tai Whakaea – Treaty Settlement Stories is a website which documents the history of the Treaty Settlement process. In addition, we have a large collection of te reo Māori content on Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand and New Zealand History.

Engagement with Māori

We partner with iwi Māori to help ensure that Māori culture is recognised as an intrinsic part of the culture and identity of Aotearoa

History of government involvement in culture  

We were established in 2000, through the merger of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs with the history and heritage functions of the Department of Internal Affairs. However, the New Zealand Government’s role in protecting and managing the nation’s culture has a much longer history.  

Early involvement in culture

Its involvement can be traced back to at least 1865, when the Colonial Museum was founded in Wellington. In 1901, the Colonial Secretary’s Office (later the Department of Internal Affairs) took responsibility for Māori antiquities. The Alexander Turnbull Library was established in 1918 and the Dominion Archives (later National Archives, now Archives New Zealand) in 1926.  

Other state-funded initiatives in the 1920s included:

  • publishing a history of the New Zealand Wars in 1922—23
  • establishing a Board of Māori Ethnological Research in 1923
  • establishing a Māori Purposes Fund Board in 1924 to subsidise cultural activities
  • establishing a School of Māori Arts and Crafts in Rotorua in 1926.  

The National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum operated under their own board from 1930 until 1992, at which time they were replaced by Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand.  

Government expands its cultural role

As the twentieth century progressed, the Government broadened its cultural role. Some of its main initiatives to support the cultural and heritage sectors included:

  • publishing an 11-volume series marking New Zealand’s centennial in 1940, and other state publications followed including A H McLintock’s three-volume encyclopaedia of New Zealand in 1966  
  • holding literary competitions  
  • forming the State Literary Fund (and, later, the New Zealand Authors’ Fund),
  • reforming the broadcasting service  
  • founding a national orchestra  
  • establishing the National Film Unit
  • setting up agencies such as the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, now Heritage New Zealand, and the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, now Creative New Zealand.  
Establishing a new Ministry of Cultural Affairs  

In 1975, the Government created a ministerial portfolio for the arts was established. This was serviced by the Department of Internal Affairs until 1991, when a separate department, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, was created.  

By the end of the 1990s, the initially limited scope of the new Ministry had broadened to include being responsible for policy relating to historic places and aspects of broadcasting, along with overseeing relevant Crown entities.  

Creating the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in 2000 was an important milestone. It formally marked the Government’s recognition of the benefits to be gained from bringing together the various cultural activities that for many years had been scattered among several departments. The structure of government now reflects the significance of culture to New Zealand, and for New Zealanders.