Skip to main content

Latest update

Round 8 of the RCHF closed on Friday 30 June 2023. Grants worth a combined total of $16.5 million were awarded to two South Island projects.

Regional culture and heritage fund provides $16.5m for South Island cultural institutions

The government will decide on the timing for the next round.

Register for updates

If you would like to know when annual RCHF grant rounds are called, register with us for RCHF funding alerts. Email us at [email protected].

Please include a contact name, phone number, and a brief description of your project.

Fund overview

The Regional Culture and Heritage Fund is a contestable fund that helps communities meet their genuine fundraising shortfalls for a range of capital construction projects. Rounds are usually held annually, but the timing and frequency of rounds can vary so check in with us. Eligible projects must be at publicly-owned and accessible relating to arts, culture and heritage public facilities:

  • performing arts venues
  • art galleries
  • museums
  • iwi museums and/or whare taonga
  • heritage buildings that house significant collections.

Some entities and activities are excluded under this Fund’s criteria. We recommend all intending applicants contact us to discuss their eligibility first before committing to the expense of preparing an application.

The level of funding available varies annually. Most rounds are oversubscribed so projects should not be developed on the assumption that RCHF funding can and will be made available. This means that the Fund is focussed towards projects that best meet RCHF criteria and have genuine fundraising shortfalls indicating that the project could not proceed without government assistance.

Main criteria for projects

The Fund’s key measurement criteria and exclusions are discussed in detail in the following document:

  • Strong applications will be for well-documented, construction-ready projects which best meet the Fund’s purpose and criteria. 
  • When assessing applications, we aim to achieve an appropriate balance between national and regional accountabilities and a project’s significance to its local community. 
  • This fund gives priority to projects that are located outside of the main metropolitan centres of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Projects within these major centres may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Examples of eligible projects

Projects that we may consider funding will be focused on constructing, renovating, restoring and adding to arts, culture and heritage buildings. For example, projects involving:

  • new buildings or extensions for growing entities
  • seismic-strengthening or modernising of existing buildings and their plant
  • energy and resource efficiency projects as part of a sustainability upgrade
  • projects to improve health, safety, security, and/or accessibility.

Strong applications will: 

  • be eligible construction-ready projects
  • have unencumbered resource consents
  • provide developed or detailed-stage architectural drawings and Quantity Surveyor costings and a corresponding progress charting fundraising plan
  • demonstrate that reasonable efforts have been made to fundraise within communities from known sources such as Lotteries, Community Trusts, and Philanthropy, before applying to the RCHF as a fund of last resort
  • clearly demonstrate a strong regional support and impact, addressing a demonstrated need, which benefits significant section(s) of the regional and wider community
  • contribute to a national network of high-quality cultural heritage facilities
  • protect and conserve moveable cultural collections that are important to their community
  • make collections available to communities of interest and the general public
  • take into account our evolving climate risks.

Projects that are not eligible

The funding is not available for capital projects involving the following types of institutions:

  • privately owned properties and/or collections
  • educational facilities, e.g. located on school, university, or wananga campuses and intended for their predominant use
  • libraries, archives and science centres
  • churches that host cultural activities
  • artist/practitioner spaces and dealer galleries
  • community centres.

Excluded costs

The RCHF is not intended to cover:

  • a buildings’ deferred maintenance costs as these are the responsibility of the building owner
  • land or building purchase costs
  • operational costs, including: temporary accommodation and relocation costs, staff salaries, and consultant, legal, and planning costs
  • performances and exhibition costs.

How to apply

Before submitting your application, you should read the fund’s policy criteria and checklist and refer to the checklist which lists the types of project documentation you need to provide.

Keyword: RCHF policy, criteria, and checklist
211.86 KB
RCHF policy, criteria, and checklist
Keyword: RCHF: Applicant agreement and coversheet form
134.91 KB
RCHF: Applicant agreement and coversheet form

We expect a high standard of robust, verifiable evidence and needs analysis from all applicants. This includes an independently authored Feasibility Studies for any capital projects with a total project cost of $250,000 or more.

We recommend you discuss your project and eligibility with our staff before applying:

Phone: (04) 496 6175
Email: [email protected]

Note: The RCHF uses an Applicant Declaration Coversheet instead of a funding application form because RCHF projects are very varied. It is important for all applicants to appreciate that this form is only the ‘coversheet’ for your application. Applicants choose how best to structure and write their applications and how to reference the accompanying supporting documentation.

Who makes funding decisions?

We assess the applications and provide our recommendations to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage (or their delegated Associate Minister) who makes the final decision on which projects will receive funding. 

Previous recipients of RCHF grants

The tables below list the recipients of Regional Cultural Heritage Fund grants since it was established in 2016. This includes any extraordinary grant decisions made by the fund officials on behalf of ministers.

The total amount expended on sector capital projects since the fund was established is $68,232,226.

Round 7, 2022-2023

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Hawke’s Bay Collection Storage, Research and Archive Centre, Hastings$9,000,000
Court Theatre, Christchurch$3,000,000

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Round 6, 2021-2022

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Te Pou Theatre, Auckland$1,170,356
Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, Rotorua$632,000

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Round 5, 2020-2021

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Museum of South Taranaki, Patea $164,030
Mahara Gallery, Waikanae, Kāpiti Coast $2,165,000
Pātaka Art+Museum, Porirua $279,234
Hokitika Museum, West Coast $794,830
Chatham Islands Museum $202,170
Waikato Regional Theatre, Hamilton $3,000,000
Arts Centre, Christchurch (Declined as ineligible under RCHF. Then granted residual Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust (CEAT) funds from the wind of that source.  The supply of funds was administered through the RCHF baseline until an appropriate project was identified.  Therefore, it is shown as an extraordinary decision here). $1,250,000

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Round 4, 2019-2020

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Raiātea Whare Taonga Resource and Archive Centre, Hokianga$300,000
Rotorua Museum, Rotorua$5,000,000
Expressions Whirinaki Arts Centre, Upper Hutt$1,280,164
The Loons Theatre, Lyttelton$981,000

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Round 3, 2018-2019

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Lawson Field Theatre Seismic Strengthening, Gisborne$417,513

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Round 2, 2017-2018

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Hawke's Bay Opera House Seismic Strengthening, Hastings$4,000,000
Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, Foxton$1,026,450
Anderson Studio Theatre, ASB Theatre, Marlborough*$900,000
Rakiura Heritage Centre, Steward Island$1,088,595
The Woolshed Heritage Centre, Masterton$22,884

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Round 1, 2016-2017

ProjectRCHF Grant*
Arts Centre, Muka Studio Wing, Gore$110,000
Nelson Centre of Performing Arts, Nelson$1,500,000
Whakatāne Museum and Research Centre, Whakatāne$1,500,000
Whanganui Museum Redevelopment, Whanganui$400,000
The Meteor Theatre Redevelopment, Hamilton$368,000
Main Auditorium, ASB Theatre Blenheim, Marlborough*$1,000,000
Sarjeant Gallery Queens Park Redevelopment, Whanganui$10,000,000
Hillary Hut Conservation, Antarctica (extraordinary decision to address fundraising shortfall to complete urgent works)$180,000

* (+/- any adjustments to quantum)

Other financial assistance

Sources for feasibility study funding

Most capital funding sources will need you to provide a robust, independently authored feasibility study with your application. Your council, regional tourism entity or local Business Round Table may be able to help you with funding and/or expertise in developing feasibility studies. If your project is community-based, you could also seek funding from Lottery Environment and Heritage.

Te Papa’s outreach service team, National Services Te Paerangi, has a range of free how-to guides including one on fundraising for museums, galleries and iwi groups.

National Services Te Paerangi guides (Te Papa)

Other funding sources for capital projects

As well as contacting your council and local philanthropists, see our list of other funding sources, both government and non-government on this webpage:

Other sources of funding