Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage)
: I move,
That the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill be now read a second time. It was the National Government of Keith Holyoake in the 1960s that created what was then known as the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand, and it was the National Government of Jim Bolger that reformed it in the 1990s, and for some years it has been known as Creative New Zealand. What this bill does is repeal the 1994 Act, the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act, and streamline the governance structure of the Arts Council, which is such a hugely important avenue for Government support to the arts in New Zealand.
Given its central role in the New Zealand arts sector, the Arts Council structure needs to be fit for the job, and for some time now it has been apparent that that is not the case. The current structure has been shown to be top-heavy and an inefficient drain on resources. Quite frankly, having 27 governors of an arts funding organisation does not make sense. This is not a comment on the work of the Arts Council or Te Waka Toi, the Pacific Arts Committee, or the Arts Board. Their work has been of a very high standard for many years. I was very lucky to chair the Arts Board between 1998 and 2001, and during that time the board did some great things. We introduced the Berlin Writers’ Residency, for example, and we started going to the Venice Biennale, the Olympics of the arts world.
But an overhaul is required, so this bill delivers a leaner, more efficient, governance structure. The two arts boards, the one statutory committee, and the council that we currently have will be replaced by a single body, the Arts Council. The bill proposes that there be 13 members on the council, appointed by the responsible Minister, and it is a reform that has been sought by many, many people in the arts sector. The legislation removes the excessive governance arrangements and the layers of bureaucracy, and it enables resources to be directed where they should go: to artists, to performers, and to arts organisations.
But let me be very, very clear: the bill does not diminish Māori representation; it strengthens it. At least four members of the new Arts Council will be qualified by their knowledge of tikanga Māori and Māori arts. At least two appointees will have knowledge of the arts and cultures and traditions of the Pacific Island peoples of New
Zealand. The Ministers of Māori Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs will have to be consulted on these appointments.
Very important, and we will come to this in greater detail during the Committee stage, is the fact that clause 11(1) provides that the four members of the Arts Council who have special knowledge in tikanga Māori are a committee of the Arts Council. That committee, if it wished, could call itself Te Waka Toi. That would be, ultimately, a decision for the committee in conjunction with the Arts Council. Clause 11(2) gives the committee a wide range of responsibilities, including advising the Arts Council on matters relevant to the functions of the council in relation to Māori arts and any other functions that the Arts Council delegates to it. Clause 11(3)(b) allows the Arts Council to appoint any committees it wants to appoint, so the Arts Council, for example, could decide to appoint a Pacific arts committee.
The bill also removes the requirement for the Arts Council to provide a strategic plan every 3 years—a pointless exercise if ever there was one. This requirement is considered to be an unnecessary duplication of the obligation to provide a statement of intent under the Crown Entities Act 2004. I remember from my time in Creative New Zealand that no sooner had one completed one strategic plan, the whole exercise had to be started again. It was an utter waste of time.
The Government Administration Committee has recommended that the bill be passed with three minor amendments. There were no substantive objections to clause 10, which relates to the new governance structure. I was very disappointed in the Labour Party’s minority report, which, quite frankly, was as shallow as a bird bath.
A number of submitters wanted to see more explicit reference in the bill to the Arts Council’s work with young New Zealanders. Although I understand this view, the Arts Council’s work is intended to benefit all New Zealanders. The committee correctly concluded that it would be inappropriate to amend clauses 3 and 7 to make more explicit reference to particular demographic segments of the population. As it happens, there is provision for youth in the Arts Council’s existing funding programmes. A key criterion in the Creative Communities scheme is encouragement of young people to engage with, and participate in, the arts. School-based projects considered to be outside a school’s core curricula activities are also eligible to receive support from the scheme.
The future of community arts was raised in some submissions, and the Arts Council is currently focusing on this area. As part of its strategic plan, the council has recently implemented developing a new community arts policy. That policy better defines community arts, and identifies Creative New Zealand’s role in, and responsibilities for, community arts activities in this country. It specifies that community arts include the practice of community cultural development, the maintenance and transmission of cultural traditions, and leisure and recreation activities.
The committee has recommended clause 4 be amended to remove the word “local” from the definition of “community arts”. This will enable national and regional organisations operating in community arts to apply for funding from the Creative Communities scheme in addition to the general contestable funding streams that they can currently access, and that is a very sensible proposal. The change aligns with Creative New Zealand’s new community arts policy.
The Regulations Review Committee advised that commencement of the Act by Order in Council, as introduced in the bill, is not really in accordance with the guidelines of the Legislation Advisory Committee, so I intend to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper at the Committee stage to alter the commencement date to 4 months after the bill receives the Royal assent. A third amendment strengthens the provisions in the bill relating to the appointment of Arts Board members with knowledge of the arts of the Pacific Islands of New Zealand.
This is a reform whose time has come. It is one that will impact significantly and positively on the effectiveness of the Arts Council, and I very much look forward to the Committee of the whole House stage, when we can look at greater detail, particularly, I imagine, at clauses 10 and 11, where there is some misunderstanding about what is going on. I commend the bill to the House.
CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour)
: As we have heard, one of the key purposes of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill is to replace the four governing bodies of Creative New Zealand, including the Arts Council, with a single body, which itself will be called the Arts Council and, as we have heard, will have 13 members. That single board will have responsibility for determining the strategic direction, priorities, and a policy framework for the entire organisation, and for funding allocation decisions.
I think it is important to record on behalf of Labour a couple of key points that we think need to be made in this debate, and which are important as far as understanding the position we take on this legislation is concerned. Arts are the heart and soul of our country. If we look at the way in which the sector flourished, particularly in those years when Helen Clark held the arts portfolio—an important way of symbolising the importance of the creative sector to the Government—then we see the truth of this.
The arts reflect the unique identity of this country. They are how we reflect ourselves, and it is obvious from any number of recent events that we could describe that our cultural diversity is one of the drivers of our social and cultural capital. These are intangibles, they are difficult to measure, but nothing is more important than our cultural patrimony as expressed through the arts, culture, and heritage sector.
The reason that the New Zealand Labour Party has real concerns about this legislation relates to the abolition of important sectoral representation inside Creative New Zealand, and the attempts to mainstream that representation on one single board. Really, the approach we are taking is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The Māori renaissance and later the Pasifika renaissance, the extraordinary flowering culturally in this country, have, in part, been able to be attributed to the fact that Te Waka Toi and the Pacific committee of the Arts Council have been creatures of those renaissances. They have reflected that cultural flowering, they have sponsored it, they have understood it, and they have ensured that, by working in partnership with the sectors they sponsor and for which they are responsible for ensuring continued partnership, we see wonderful things happening.
Our fear is that through the structures that will be put in place by this legislation, Pacific Island, Māori, other ethnic groups, and other groups in society will just be overwhelmed by the structure of the proposed so-called streamlined council. This is not a fear that only we hold. We have had many, many stakeholders from the sector approach us and express this concern. Some of these concerns came through in the submissions to the Government Administration Committee, but many Māori, Pacific, and other artists have expressed these concerns individually. They are not always willing to come to the Government and express these concerns.
I think it is important for the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage to hear this. I know he himself does not engage in this sort of conduct, but there are people out there who are frightened of expressing these perspectives because they do not want to suffer in terms of funding decisions or any other sort of vindictive or petty revenge from his colleagues. I think the fact that that is a live concern that has been expressed by folk in the artistic sector is a real indictment on this Government, and, in particular, on the Minister, who has just resumed his seat. The reality of the sector under Christopher Finlayson is very different from the rosy picture he has just tried to paint in his speech.
Getting rid of the Te Waka Toi committee and replacing it with four persons who will be charged with representing Māori and Māori perspectives on a council of 13
members really invites one to do the maths. There is a real danger that moving from the current structure to four out of 13 will simply lead to that particular perspective being swamped. There is simply no way around the mathematical reality here. We have to ask, and look very long and hard at, the question of whether we are ready as a society to do this culturally with our arts sector. Our judgment, and the judgment of many participants in the sector, is it is simply premature. In fact, many Māori artists, and other Māori with a stake in the sector, have told us that this is the case.
The Minister said in his speech that the four members required to reflect a Māori perspective will be statutorily designated as a committee themselves. They will be able to call themselves Te Waka Toi if they want. Well, surely that begs the question: why do away with Te Waka Toi in the first place if his expectation is simply that these four members will immediately re-designate themselves as such as soon as the legislation passes?
Also, disbanding the South Pacific Arts Committee and replacing it with only two members to represent Pacific Island peoples and their culture has a real potential for loss in terms of the distinctive recognition of the differences between the Pacific Island communities in New Zealand, and in terms of the unique cultural contribution they make, particularly in Auckland, the largest Pacific city on the planet, but also across New Zealand, wherever there are Pacific communities contributing to the sector in a way that currently happens.
The Minister foreshadowed a Supplementary Order Paper in this area. Obviously it is a pity that we do not have that Supplementary Order Paper yet—and it is a shame that this is becoming the practice of that Minister and this Government. We can only go on what he tells us will be in the Supplementary Order Paper. Well, it does not sound as if it will do much to address our concerns, but, of course, we will look at it in the Committee stage.
If the Minister’s proposal succeeds and these committees are done away with, then clearly it will be incumbent on this House to monitor the impact of the loss of the two committees and to review future funding decisions of the council to ensure that they do actually reflect the diversity that is now New Zealand society. We are not convinced that the assessment process by a subordinate panel, which is the proposal as I understand it, will give due recognition of the cultural contribution that could be made by an applicant for funding.
The other concern that arises out of the submissions process and analysis of the bill is that community arts development funding is in real danger, because in a recession it has to compete against the demands of funding for professional arts. There is a classic example in Wellington if you look at the theatre sector. You have got, essentially, a commercial operation at Circa, an experimental, entry-level experience at Bats, and something in the middle trying to do something creative, unique, and responsive to the changing contemporary audience demands at Downstage. How are those various competing interests going to be dealt with? It is not clear under this bill.
The concern is that the legislation reflects the perspective and the personality of the Minister. It is a bit elitist, it does appear to be for the benefit of a smaller range of artists, and it does not appear to be aimed at the broader spectrum that makes up our creative arts community. It is a real concern, I think, that the bill makes no mention whatever of the importance of project-based funding in infrastructure and capital.
We are also concerned that the Arts Council is no longer to be required to prepare and publish, after public consultation, a strategic plan every 3 years. The Minister dismissed all this as red tape. We fear that it is simply, again, representative of his desire for a top-down approach from the Minister’s office to the sector, dictating what
will be funded according to his preferences. That is not going to work in our creative sector.
The approach in the legislation is a concern to us. We compare it with what we saw a couple of nights ago with the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill where, again, you have, in a governance sense, an attempt to do away with the representatives of ordinary members and replace them with a governance board. So we will be looking very carefully at these changes. We have Supplementary Order Papers we will be putting forward at the Committee stage, but we maintain our opposition to the bill for the reasons I have advanced.
KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National)
: The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, like other bills presented by the National Government, seeks to streamline the current structure of this organisation. The bill seeks to have a single board whose responsibility will be to determine the strategic direction, priorities, and policy framework of the entire organisation, and, of course, towards funding allocation decisions.
I think it is common sense to replace multiple boards that create confusion with one single entity, as this is likely to require fewer resources, along with saving money on fees and the salaries of multiple board members. The best part is that it streamlines the decision-making process so that our artistic and creative organisations progress, and, along with them, our economy progresses.
The bill seeks to provide clarity to the staff that their role is not to solve bureaucratic hurdles but to work for the arts sector and its promotion. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The future depends on what we do in the present.” In the context of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, this quote stands out, as the bill shows that the Government is serious about preserving the arts and culture of our country so that not just present-day New Zealanders but our generations to come can also learn about our culture and heritage.
Contemporary New Zealand is a melting pot of cultures with strong links to the Pacific Islands, along with our own Māori heritage. In order to make sure that this melting pot is truly represented, the new board will consist of Māori and Pacific Island people who will be appointed after consultation with the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Minister of Māori Affairs, and the Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, thereby highlighting the Government’s attempt to create an inclusive board.
Furthermore, as I said earlier as well, the new Arts Council will determine its own strategic direction without any interference from the Government. One should not forget that there are significant economic benefits of an Arts Council that functions independently and chalks out its own strategic direction. Be it the kinds of films we make, the kinds of paintings our artists draw, the kind of photography our artists undertake, or Fashion Week held in Wellington, Auckland, or any other city, they all serve as a means of selling our soft power to the world. Soft power is not like military power, because it does not force anyone; rather, it is the power of one’s culture, art, and heritage that attracts others to our country.
I once again reiterate that the people of New Zealand will benefit greatly from this bill. I acknowledge the passion the Hon Chris Finlayson has for our art and culture, which has led to the formation of this bill. I fully support this bill.
GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour)
: I just want to start my contribution to this Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill by reflecting on the speech that the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage gave when he introduced the second reading into the House. Mr Finlayson cannot get through a speech in this Parliament without being nasty towards the Opposition parties, and I want to do something now that Mr Finlayson himself seems incapable of doing. I want to
acknowledge Christopher Finlayson’s contribution to the arts in New Zealand. He is somebody who was on the Creative New Zealand board during the term of the last Labour Government, he is somebody who has personally contributed to the arts in Wellington, certainly, and at a nationwide level as well—sometimes with his own resources—and I think that is something that is to be applauded. It would be nice if, similarly, Mr Finlayson were able to acknowledge that funding of the arts did not start during Keith Holyoake’s time, pause whenever a Labour Government was elected, and then restart when he came down from heaven to beneficently look after the arts community in this country.
I think that Mr Finlayson would be well served to actually reflect on his time on the Arts Council when a Labour Government was in place, when many, many millions of dollars were reinvested in the arts sector, which had been struggling during the 1990s—the so-called arts recovery package, which was necessary because funding had not followed the good intentions of the Jim Bolger - led Government. So Mr Finlayson is somebody who can stand proudly on his record as a funder and contributor to the arts scene, but who could perhaps just bring a little good grace to the House every now and then and reflect on the things that have been done by others in this area.
The bill that is in front of us has already been outlined by the Minister and by Charles Chauvel. The essence of Labour’s concern with this bill relates to the changes that have been made in terms of the composition of the Arts Council and the disestablishment of Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Committee. I am going to come back specifically to them, but I want to note a contribution that the Human Rights Commission made in its submission on the bill. What it said was that the newly formed Arts Council, the 13 people who will now be responsible for all of the funding decisions and all of the overall decisions of Creative New Zealand, would need to make up for the loss of the distinctive identity of Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Council. That is a very, very difficult thing for that group to be able to do.
The Human Rights Commission went on to say that councils should endeavour to actively retain the special character of the former entities. I put it to the Government that that will not be possible with a body of 13 people. Te Waka Toi has had a particularly specific role in doing exactly what the Human Rights Commission told the select committee needed to happen, and that is to actively retain the special character of the work that it does. If we actually look at Te Waka Toi’s purpose, it is specifically to consider applications for funding through Creative New Zealand, by Māori, for Māori and the world, as well as managing its own awards and scholarships. I do not believe that the role Te Waka Toi has undertaken will be undertaken in a way that protects the distinctive characteristics, which is what the Human Rights Commission asked for. Despite having four representatives, whom the Minister appoints, who have some knowledge of tikanga Māori, I simply do not believe that Te Waka Toi’s distinctive character will be able to be kept up, and that is one of the fundamental reasons why Labour continues to oppose this bill.
There are some changes that could be made to the way Creative New Zealand runs, to the way the Arts Council runs, to make it more efficient. But I think that disestablishing Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Committee has gone too far. I believe that the body of 13 that has now been created will struggle to continue to ensure—as everyone I think in this House agrees, and certainly as the former Arts Council legislation and this legislation says—that the arts are for all New Zealanders. The ability to create a system that can deliver on that promise is not easy, and I am certainly not saying that the Minister, in going into this exercise, thinks he has come up with an easy option. He has come up with a streamlined option, which I do not believe will allow for that purpose—the arts being for all New Zealanders—to be delivered on.
In general, the organisations that came to the Government Administration Committee raised these concerns and hoped that there would be changes made by the committee to deal with these concerns. There have been some small changes, and we should acknowledge them. The Human Rights Commission recommended to the select committee that clause 10(5) be altered to allow a person with knowledge of the Pacific arts and knowledge of the cultures and traditions of Pacific communities to be appointed. That is a useful change in terms of the bill, but it does not actually provide for the kind of knowledge and distinctive identity that the South Pacific Arts Committee has previously put forward.
As my colleague Charles Chauvel said, it is of the nature of these kinds of bodies that many of the people with concerns about these issues do not actually put submissions in, because they are the very people who need to get funding from these bodies. Certainly, I have received comment from a number of Māori artists in particular who are very concerned about the demise of Te Waka Toi, and do not believe that the new Arts Council will be able to deliver on promoting the distinctive identity of Māori arts in New Zealand.
One of the other changes that was made relates to the definition of community arts, and again the Arts Participation New Zealand Charitable Trust came before the select committee and asked for the definition of community arts to be widened, and the committee agreed with that. That is also a useful change, but it again begs the question whether a body of 13 people will be able to sufficiently support community arts. Many, many New Zealanders have their interaction with the creative world through community arts organisations. New Zealanders are amazingly active at a local level in the arts, and Creative New Zealand is tasked with an incredibly difficult job of trying to fund things, from Mr Finlayson’s higher art through to community-level arts programmes. That is a very difficult mandate, and anything that can be done in the legislation, anything that can be done in the way we structure the Arts Council, that supports community arts we should be doing, in my view. I believe that this bill does not capture that.
So specifically for those three reasons—the fact that the distinctive character of Māori arts cannot be upheld by a 13-member board; that the South Pacific Arts Committee has been disestablished, which means that those issues will not be upheld by the board; and that community arts are not sufficiently supported and identified in the bill—I do not believe that the Arts Council is going to be able to fulfil the role we want it to fulfil.
There are some other issues, which we can come to during the Committee stage, where we have some specific concerns, but in summary it would be fair to say that we are all looking for an Arts Council—Creative New Zealand, as it is colloquially known—that is a body that can uphold New Zealanders’ interest in the arts. What we want is a structure that ensures that all New Zealanders can look at that body and say: “My applications will be fairly treated. My interests will be developed and fostered.” The structure that the Minister has put in front of us today, although it might be, in his mind, an answer to those questions, does not, I believe, get it right. What changes there are that will be useful are, unfortunately, overwhelmed by the taking away of representation—
Andrew Little: Which electorate chairman has been lined up for it?
GRANT ROBERTSON:That is a very interesting point that Mr Little makes. By restricting the board to 13 members we run the risk that once again from this National Government the hint of cronyism will arise, the hint of who will be appointed to this very significant body.
Chris Hipkins: Hint?
GRANT ROBERTSON: It is only a hint at the moment. We have certainly seen plenty of examples of cronyism in other areas. In this area we have seen good Arts Council boards in recent years. I would hate to think that by changing the structure it will move more towards the concerns we have seen with New Zealand On Air.
The Labour Party is unable to support these changes to the Arts Council structure, because we do not believe that the new body will be able to fairly provide, for the purpose of this bill, arts for all New Zealanders, and support the distinctive cultures—Māori, Pacific, and other—in New Zealand.
HOLLY WALKER (Green)
: I am pleased to rise to speak on the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, as the Green Party’s new spokesperson on arts, culture, and heritage. The Green Party supported this bill at the first reading because we were interested in hearing at the Government Administration Committee how it would impact on the arts community, especially Māori and Pacific arts. I was not in Parliament for the first reading of this bill, nor was I on the select committee when it considered this bill, but I have read the
Hansard and I have acquainted myself with the select committee report. I have consulted with my colleagues and we have heard the concerns of some key stakeholders, particularly Māori and Pasifika artists. So it is with some regret that we advise the House that after those processes the Green Party finds itself unable to, on balance, continue to support this bill.
The Green Party will oppose the bill tonight at the second reading and will continue to oppose it at the Committee stage and the third reading. The primary reason that we have decided, on balance, to change our position on this bill is that we remain extremely concerned about the impact this bill will have on the Māori and Pacific arts communities, in particular. As we have heard from other speakers, this bill replaces the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 1994 and restructures the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, otherwise known as Creative New Zealand. At present, Creative New Zealand administers the Arts Board, it administers Te Waka Toi, Māori Arts, and the South Pacific Arts Committee—a Pacific nations arts board. This bill disestablishes Te Waka Toi, it disestablishes the South Pacific Arts Committee, and it streamlines the Arts Council into one 13-member board.
I acknowledge that the bill would provide for four seats on the board for people who have at least a regard for, or an understanding and knowledge of, Te Ao Māori, tikanga Māori, and Māori arts. I also acknowledge it makes similar provisions for two seats for members with similar understanding and knowledge of Pasifika arts and culture. I appreciate the change that has been made by the select committee to strengthen the requirement for Pasifika cultural knowledge on those boards. The Green Party understands that there may be some opportunities for Māori and Pasifika arts communities associated with having those seats at the table—if you like, at the top table—of the body making key decisions about arts funding in Aotearoa New Zealand. That was part of the reason for our initial support of this bill, but we feel that those potential opportunities do not outweigh the potential damage of disestablishing those two bodies—Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Committee. Conversations with Māori artists and key stakeholders have revealed, in our experience, that there is a strong desire from Māori for an independent Māori Arts Council administered by Māori for Māori. We believe that it is consistent, indeed, with the Treaty of Waitangi and the partnership that that document creates, for there to be an independent Māori Arts Council body. We are very concerned that the ability to replicate the level of community engagement that Te Waka Toi currently undertakes will not be carried over into the new so-called streamlined body.
Similarly, we believe that a stand-alone Pasifika Arts Board like the South Pacific Arts Council is important because of the diversity of Pacific cultures that are
represented in New Zealand society today. We are a Pacific nation—afloat in Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, as my colleague Catherine Delahunty said at the first reading of this bill. Some of the most exciting, vibrant, challenging art practice in New Zealand is coming from Pasifika artists, musicians, and writers. But the Pacific is a huge geographical area, and culturally there is a rich diversity of Pacific peoples and cultures from many Pacific nations engaged in the arts in New Zealand. We are concerned that with the restriction to two seats on the council for Pasifika community representatives the diversity, distinction, and difference between those Pacific cultures will not be adequately represented in the new structure.
It has been somewhat difficult to judge the impact of this bill from the submissions received at the select committee alone, because there were not many. What we have heard from a previous speaker, which is echoed in the feedback and the informal feedback that we have had, is that actually there may be quite a high level of concern about this bill in the arts community from people who felt unwilling to make a submission at the select committee because they do not want to prejudice their future funding and their engagement with Creative New Zealand in the future. So I think it is very important to ensure—and it is incumbent on us as parliamentarians to have that in the back of our minds—that we are not railroading in here an unhelpful change that the sector, in fact, is not confident about.
The arts sector is very important in New Zealand. We have a strong creative sector, and with the right support the arts have the potential to become a significant non-agricultural export industry in New Zealand, in fact. But that will not happen without sound leadership, it will not happen without strong Government support, and it will not happen without good strategic planning. That is why we were also disappointed to hear the Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage in his speech earlier dismiss strategic planning in the arts sector as red tape and a waste of time. That suggests to me a very dismissive attitude towards the arts in general and one that does not recognise its vital role in New Zealand’s culture and in our economy. Strategic planning, we think, is very important to enable the arts to continue to thrive. So we have a number of concerns about this bill, and particularly about the disestablishment of Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Council. We feel that the richness and diversity of Māori and Pasifika arts communities will not be adequately represented in the new structure created by this bill. For that reason, the Green Party will oppose this bill tonight and at future stages. Thank you.
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa)
: I find it really disappointing that both the Labour Party and the Green Party are opposing this Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, because I think it is really important that all New Zealanders support the arts. If we are going to encourage all New Zealanders to support the arts, then we need to move the community view from “The Government is going to put its hand in the pocket to pay for it.” to “Let’s all share the burden and let’s encourage philanthropy.” There are many hundreds of New Zealanders who are very supportive of the arts. I think about people like Mike Camp here in Wellington, Fran Ricketts in Auckland, Richard Cathie, Ron Scott up in Upper Hutt, Chris Parkin across town, the Deanes—Rod and Gillian Deane—Eion and Jan Edgar down in Queenstown, and John Todd here in Wellington. These are people whose names crop up time and time and time again because they are the ones we go to, to say: “Would you please give us some money for this purpose or another?”. These people are very, very important people in our community for the contributions that they make from their pocket to the growth of the arts and our culture in this country.
The solution to encourage those people to continue giving to the arts, and, more important, to grow the pie by engaging with the 30 and 40-year-olds in our community,
to get them into the business of supporting the arts, is not to have some sort of wasteful, top-heavy, laborious collection of entities that are all involved in developing strategy and ideas, and are having meaningless discussions about the arts, rather than getting on with the practical business of efficiently running the structure.
I particularly want to commend Chris Finlayson, and pick up on Grant Robertson’s comments about what a wonderful job the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage does in actually putting his hand in his own pocket and contributing to the arts. Chris Finlayson knows what has to be done.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Is there such a thing as culinary arts?
JOHN HAYES: When was the last time, Mr Cosgrove, you made a contribution to culture in New Zealand by buying a painting, or even visiting an art gallery? You must come and have a look at Te Papa one day. I am pleased that your art gallery in Christchurch did not suffer too badly in the earthquake. When I was there last time nobody had even seen you set foot inside it, such is your support for the arts. No, you are into creating jobs for all sorts of people by having top-heavy structures. We are not going to go down that road. I commend the Minister for compressing the administration into an efficient entity, because if we do not have efficient management of the arts, we are not going to encourage philanthropists to put in their money to grow that business.
I would just finally like to wind up by saying that about 3 percent of the total arts funding comes from private donors. It is from gifts from people like Mr Cosgrove who donate generously to the arts—3 percent! What we have to do is encourage young people into the business of giving, and I am very pleased that John Key helped to do that by lifting the tax credit cap on the amount of money people could donate to good works. I have not the slightest reservation in supporting this legislation, and I commend the Minister for bringing it back to the House. Thank you.
TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First)
: Kia ora, Mr Speaker, thank you. I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to speak in support of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. I am a little mystified by the speaker before me, John Hayes. I am not quite sure whereabouts in the bill is the finance part, but I am hoping perhaps that is part 2, which is coming, or part 3 or part 4, because the bill that I read actually did not really relate to what that speaker was talking about. But never mind, we will get back to the bill in question.
The purpose of this bill, I say for the benefit of the last speaker, is to streamline the governance structure of the Arts Council of New Zealand, otherwise known as Creative New Zealand. So we all know that. It is to take four governing bodies and reduce these down to one, it is to take a total of 28 appointed members down to 13, and this new entity is going to be called the Arts Council. We are pleased to see in the provisions of this bill the allocation of four seats for specialists in the area of tikanga Māori and Māori arts, and two seats for those with knowledge of the traditions, cultures, and arts of Pasifika. We do share some of the concerns of the Labour Party and the Green Party that this could result in the loss of a distinctive Māori or Pasifika identity, but we see that this could be preferable to the continuation of two separate entities and the resources required to support them.
Now at this point I would like to make the statement that New Zealand First was not here for the first reading, nor were we on the select committee for the submissions, so during the period between readings, New Zealand First will be taking that opportunity to go and talk to our arts communities, to our Māori, to our Pasifika, and to all the other members of our communities that actually input into the arts in our various communities. We have confidence—we do have confidence—that any Māori and Pasifika appointees will continue to consult with their broader communities through hui and fono, but we stress that there will be a need to identify and to resource their ability
to do this inside any funding model that the new Arts Council receives. Perhaps some of the savings around having fewer entities and fewer people will be funnelled into that facility, so that there can be greater consultation from that period.
I think it is a great shame that the Minister who brought this bill to the House does not think strategic planning is valuable. We have a concern around the removal of the requirement to produce, and to consult on, a strategic plan. The reason given for this removal—apart from the interesting reasons that the Minister gave today, like they are too much trouble and you have to be doing that consultation all the time—is that under the Crown Entities Act 2004, the Arts Council is required to produce a statement of intent. Now why do we feel concern about this? That is because a statement of intent is about what you intend to do now—in the now, in the here, in the present—and it outlines how the entity intends to interact with other entities—corporates, or stakeholders. It outlines the method with which it is going to do business, by which it will achieve its goals. But, again, that is very much in the present, in the here and now.
The purpose of a strategic plan is to provide organisational direction and, I have got to say, it might be new to the Government benches, that facet of a strategic plan. It is about having some vision. It is actually about reaching out for, let us say, some aspirational goals and creating those aspirational goals through consultation with communities. So the process of creating a strategic plan draws all parties together and sets them all working towards a common goal. We note that the Minister said in his address during the first reading debate that “Stakeholders can expect to continue consultation through the annual letter of expectation”, and I would argue that this still does not provide long-term vision or the corporate sense of direction that would be created from a 3 to 5-year strategic plan. If the Minister does not like the fact that he has to do it every 3 years, make it a 5-year strategic plan—that is fine. But have some vision and have some consultation around that vision.
I want to draw the House’s attention to clause 3(2)(d)(ii), which recognises and upholds the principles of access “by supporting the availability of projects of merit to communities or sections of the population that would otherwise not have access to them;”. We want to make a special comment around the area of youth access to and participation in the arts. In Rodney, Helensville, and the southern end of the Northland electorate, we have no public transport. This is something that those who argue against roads tend to forget. Many of us do not have the luxury of stepping outside our front door and a few paces down the street to a bus stop, nor do we live on a kerbed and channelled street where we can ride our bikes over smooth sealed roads in relative safety. Many of our cyclists take their lives in their hands on our narrow, unsealed, or unedged country roads.
My point here is that the continuation of Creative New Zealand funding for projects such as Tutus on Tour, which performed in Warkworth and Wellsford late last year, providing for many of our children and youth the first and only opportunity to see ballet of such a high standard, is vital. Or the dance groups that come to our schools and take a day of dance and movement classes for hundreds of students, or supporting events such as later this year, when the National Youth Orchestra will play in the Helensville Community Centre. Without this funding and the commitment to send the arts out, so to speak, our young people would often never have the opportunity to see what is possible. New Zealand First strongly supports the principles espoused in this clause, the clause around access.
If we move on to Part 2, “Community arts providers”, we note that in the first reading of this bill the honourable member Grant Robertson drew attention to some of the concerns from parts of the community-based arts sector that the model of the funding of the arts, or the decision about the arts, would move to a more city or urban-centric decision-making base. Again, coming from the Rodney electorate, which just 20 months ago found itself dragged, kicking and screaming, into the amalgamation of Auckland, this is a situation that on many levels we have ample experience advocating against. It is interesting to note that arts funding has been one of the areas where Rodney has had to brace itself against the onslaught of the large urban populations to retain its decision-making powers. I was pleased to be part of the process in which local artists submitted projects for funding support under the legacy partnership between the now extinct Rodney District Council and Creative New Zealand, but saddened that due to the grave danger of having funds withdrawn from our local area for allocation over the wider Auckland, with the decisions on that distribution being made in the Auckland Town Hall, the Rodney local board was required to abandon the policy of core funding retention and interest allocation, thereby losing the security of the future of this funding pool. But to every cloud there must be a silver lining, and in this instance the legacy Rodney district will gain some substantial art pieces and projects developed and delivered by a variety of local artists, containing that local feel and flavour that this fund has as one of its core deliverables.
The point we wish to make, however, is that we need to safeguard the local input into art decisions delivered at a local level, and we would advocate that clause 14 should be amended to read “that the Arts Council will designate community arts providers”, and that this sentiment permeate not only through this clause of the bill but also clauses 15, 16, and 18. I am not suggesting the specifics around numbers of community providers, or dictating the criteria of those community providers, because that would drop out of a strategic plan. That is the sort of thing you work on in a strategic plan, but by changing this wording the Arts Council would be committed to addressing local delivery via local communities.
I could give you a few examples, but I am running out of time, so I am going to skip to the end of my comment today. We are unhappy about the removal of the word “local”. It is interesting how many people are having a conversation these days in procurement policies or other policies about what “local” means, but, again, in a strategic plan that would probably drop out.
In closing, New Zealand First sees more positives than negatives in this bill, and we will be supporting it to third reading, but we signal at this time our intention to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper addressing the areas where we believe this bill can be improved. Thank you.
MELISSA LEE (National)
: It is a great pleasure to rise to take a short call on the second reading of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. Like some of the earlier speakers, I was not part of the Government Administration Committee, which considered this bill, but it was really interesting sitting here listening to the Labour Party pontificating about the arts world.
You see, I do understand how important the arts are to the Labour Party. Of course, former Prime Minister Helen Clark was in fact the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, because she believed that the arts were so important. Her greatest gift to New Zealand and the arts was “paintergate”, when she signed her own name to a piece of art that she did not even draw.
Streamlining the Arts Council into one board, which is streamlined and needs fewer resources, makes sense, and it frees up staff to focus on what is important, which is the artists, the arts organisations, and arts development. That is what matters, and this to me is a great bill, and I commend it to the House.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour)
: I was not going to take a call in this debate, but I felt compelled and challenged by a member whom I consider a living work of art in this Chamber, in political terms—
Melissa Lee: Thank you.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: No, no, not you. I was referring to John Hayes, not to that member over there. That member would be akin to, you know, some of the Egyptian art that we now see, some of that political archaeology over there. For the record, I think we should make it plain that the former—[Interruption] Mr Groser, I think, has said “a dinosaur”, and that is a very good analogy for that member sitting in the corner who just spoke.
But I think it is good to set the record straight, because when it comes to resourcing the arts, no Government can do better than the previous Clark Government did in that respect. I remember, when
The Lord of the Rings was being proposed and schemes of arrangement were put in place by the then Clark Government, the cries of derision from those members who now sit on that side that this was PC gone mad, and all sorts of other things. I remember going to many meetings, and after
The Lord of the Rings was progressed by Mr Jackson, there was the realisation that because of the Clark Government’s schemes of arrangement in respect of the arts and the film industry, we now have a film industry in this country. We now have jobs for editors, for lighting technicians, and for actors. There is now an industry. They do not have to whip across the Ditch, as they are doing at 1,000 people a week in all the other sorts of sectors, or over to the United States to become famous and professional, to contribute, and to have a career, and a lucrative career. They can now do it in New Zealand.
But there were cries of derision from that side, as we increased the arts budget. I remember Bill English having a really good go as we increased the arts budget, saying that this was wasteful expenditure. Now, of course, we are left with this, the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill.
I am trying to think of some art terms to describe this piece of legislation. I am sure Mr Groser, who is, I am told, a doyen of the arts and an expert—in fact, there was suspicion, and I am told that historians did look closely at the record, that he may have painted the
Mona Lisa; it may have been Mr Groser—would agree with me. This bill is sort of like a Jackson Pollock painting. Jackson Pollock did some amazing paintings, I am reliably advised, and the
was one. He would not have a strategy in his mind when he faced the canvas. There was no strategy. He would simply pick up the paint and hurl it, willy-nilly, at the canvas, and great art would materialise. I acknowledge Jackson Pollock’s great contribution to the arts world. But I am told by art historians that there was no strategy. This was sort of impulse. You know, pick up some paint—a bit like the National Government’s economic policy—hurl it at the canvas, and it will sit where it hits. That is what this bill is very similar to.
I see Mr Groser is nodding, as a person who knows far more about the arts world than I do know, or will ever know.
Hon David Cunliffe: He’s cruised a lot of art galleries, that boy.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Exactly! Another great artwork that I was thinking of that could describe this bill and the authors of it is that famous work by Munch called
The Scream. You will know this. It is a—
Hon Member: Expensive.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: It is a very expensive painting,
The Scream. It is of a person holding their hands up, screaming in anguish. It reminded me of John Banks. It reminded me of John Banks when the boom was lowered on him in respect of his dodgy dealings around Kim Dotcom. It was this sort of scream. In fact, the visual image—I am wondering if Munch had a premonition many years ago when he painted that and he thought of Johnny Banks. That may have been an inspiration for him.
Andrew Little: John Banks went to his birthday party.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: “John Banks went to his birthday party,” my colleague said. Well, anything is possible, but Mr Banks, of course, would not be able to remember.
I say this. The reason we are opposing this bill is that it is not well-thought-out. The speaker from New Zealand First I think made some very, very valid points around representation. If we are really, truly wanting to embrace our communities, our diverse communities, such that they are—and they are far more diverse than they were 20, 30, or 40 years ago; we even have people like Mr Hayes here—then we should have appropriate representation on these arts bodies. That not only makes common sense but also makes a lot of sense in terms of having artistic sense. It makes sense, because those communities are represented. As other speakers have said, they are our Pacific Island community, our Māori community, our ethnic communities, our young people—they all come to the arts world from a different perspective.
Simon O’Connor: Old people, middle-aged people, healthy people, sick people, middle-class people—just keep going.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Sorry?
Simon O’Connor: It’s your speech. Just keep going.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I am just wondering. Did somebody pull that member out of the crypt, did they—sort of like an old canvas? Did they pull him out, dust him off, and then shove him back because he is not up to standard? You know, these new guys are showing some enthusiasm. Obviously, the John Hayes tutorials are working.
But we oppose this bill, because it does not make sense. It is not good policy. It has not been thought out. Again I say that, like the Jackson Pollock artwork, Mr Finlayson has got up, thrown a bit of paint on the canvas, sloshed it around a bit, and now he is trying to flog it off to the New Zealand people as one of the grand masters. Well, sorry, it does not work. Those communities that have been left out in the cold, and that are not represented well on this, make massive contributions.
I recall Mr Groser making a valid comment last week about the Māori language, te reo. I think he made some very valid points. The same could be said for representation in the arts community for our ethnic communities, for our indigenous communities, and for others.
So the question I pose to those relics on the other side, the sort of political version of archaeology we have over there, who are leaving the country with economic archaeology as they take over, is why is it that these people are being limited in their representation? No speaker has got up. Maybe “Mr Goldfinger”—sorry, Mr Goldsmith—could tell us, because he, I am sure, has made a contribution to the arts world in a literary sense, as a biographer, authorised and unauthorised, of John Banks. I am told that there is another piece of literary prose on its way from Mr Goldsmith, and that is Mr Banks’ final weighty tome: his obituary. Mr Goldsmith is labouring long and hard into the evening to write with great artistic finesse and great literary substance the final chapter, “The Rise and Fall and Fall and Fall of John Banks”.
So maybe Mr Goldsmith could tell us—or Mr Borrows could, being a Minister—why it is that this representation has been so limited, why it is that the National Government has slashed the budgets in the arts community, and why it is that it will not actually follow its fine words—
Andrew Little: Yes, they’ve painted themselves into a corner.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: —with fine actions. My colleague said: “Yes, they’ve painted themselves into a corner.”, excuse the pun. Well done, Mr Little. I thought that was a cracker. Maybe those members could tell us why it is that fine words
are not followed by fine actions. Oh, silence. Silence. That is very interesting, is it not? Silence.
Hon Members: We’re all asleep.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Oh, they have woken up again. Mr Hayes made history today by making a shorter speech than Mr Bakshi.
I just say we oppose the bill, but we oppose it on good grounds. We oppose it, because we have gone out and talked to those within the arts community and listened to what their needs and concerns are. We make an offer to the Government. We believe that this legislation can be improved if Mr Finlayson is willing to listen and willing to cooperate and take account of new ideas from our communities. We make that offer to him because there should actually be no politics in this, but we draw the line in that we do not support invalid, limited legislation that does not actually do the job.
Yet again, we see a nice little political pamphlet here that will be paraded around the country by some, but the problem is, when those members go to the art galleries and when they go and talk to the communities as they are practising their skills around the country, the communities will see through this. Those members will have to explain what they have not explained to this Parliament: why the limit on representation? Why not break it out and widen it to all those in our community? Is that not what art is about—you know, getting it out into the roots of our community and getting those talented people to unleash their skill and make a contribution? These are the sorts of words that National likes to trumpet occasionally, but, again, fine words are never followed by appropriate or substantive actions.
So I put that to those members, and I invite the next speaker, whomever that may be, to paint us a verbal canvas in political-speak, and simply answer this. Answer the questions that have been put to you. Why the limit on representation, why will the Government not widen it, and why will it not support legislation with resources appropriately tailored to our communities?
PAUL GOLDSMITH (National)
: I would like to speak in favour of this
Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. I must say I am left puzzled a little bit by the speech from the previous speaker, Clayton Cosgrove. Labour seems to be claiming credit for
TheLord of the Rings, which I thought was rather bold. I cannot understand why Labour is talking about limits on representation. I think six out of the 13 seats are set aside for Māori and Pacific Islanders. Is Labour suggesting there should be more? I do not know.
The purpose of this bill is to replace the current governance structure with a unitary board—
Hon David Cunliffe: The member’s reading his speech.
PAUL GOLDSMITH: —called the Arts Council, comprising 13 members. Well, it is a good job I can read. It is about streamlining the governance, which was previously top-heavy. It replaces the structure and will free up about $200,000, we estimate, which can be better used in actually supporting the arts rather than supporting various meetings, which seemed to be the focus of the previous administration.
The Arts Council and Creative New Zealand are a very important part of the cultural infrastructure of New Zealand. We are very good in New Zealand about talking about the importance of the nation investing in infrastructure and investing in roads, education facilities, and ports, but it should be recognised that the arts and the creative industries are an important part of the nation’s infrastructure, as well. Having a quality orchestra and having quality performing arts groups is an important part of a successful society.
I am going to the writers and readers festival this weekend in Auckland, where last year they had about 31,000 people coming along over the weekend, and I am sure there will be even more this time round. It is all about what makes a richer place for New
Zealanders to live in, and a richer society, by having these sorts of things funded through Creative New Zealand, and it is why this is such an important part. Ultimately we live in a competitive world, and it is not so much competition between countries as competition between cities. If we want to retain the new generation of New Zealanders growing up in Auckland, we need to have an exciting place to live. A place where you can make a reasonable living is important, a liveable city is important, but you want to have a quality city that has these sorts of creative industries flourishing and well supported. That is why I think the arts are an important part of what a Government can contribute in funding groups that will not be able to be sustained normally in a small society such as we live in. So I think it is a very important part of what we do.
This Government values the arts; we have maintained very significant investment in the arts over the last few years. We have retained the important charitable-giving tax reductions, which have been a real boom to philanthropy over the last few years. And, viewing it more broadly, we have come to do what is necessary to fight against the wreckers in the union movement to retain the film industry working effectively in Wellington. Nothing can be more important in terms of the economy of Wellington than a successful carrying on of the film industry, which was seriously in peril in the last couple of years.
I stand absolutely full square behind this bill, and the National Government has had a long tradition of supporting the arts in New Zealand. We understand its importance to society in developing a rich economy and a rich society in which we can all express the wide diversity of views that are held. I support this bill absolutely. Thank you very much.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: As by tradition, call 11 is a split call. There will be a warning bell at 4 minutes.
CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South)
: I just want to make two quick points about our opposition to this Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, which we opposed in the first reading, and we continue to oppose. One of the two points I want to make is that this is an erosion. What this bill represents, and what this Government is doing, is eroding our cultural identity in our nation, and impacting on the ability of communities to have a role in artistic endeavours.
I do not have the language of my esteemed colleague Clayton Cosgrove to give the artistic metaphors. In thinking about this bill, one of the words that comes to mind is “fluff”. It is fluff. It is just words. It is weasel words. It is actually not real, and it is paying lip service to the importance of our cultural identity, which the previous Labour Government put a very high value on. Putting a high value on the arts, putting a high value on our cultural identity, is something that Labour Governments have done over the years, and it is something that this Government is not doing.
With regard to the erosion of community arts development, I would like to quickly mention a submission that was received by the Government Administration Committee from the Taieri Community Arts Council. The council wrote to say that it was in the process of winding up its business and ceasing to exist because Creative New Zealand had decreed that no community arts council may ring-fence funding for an area within a local authority. It said: “For nearly 30 years we have done just that for the Taieri Plains area. This is a cunning strategy to get rid of Community Arts councils by a back door method and perfectly illustrates the attitude that Creative New Zealand has towards Community Arts Councils.” I put it to you that this is what this bill does. This is the effect that this bill is having all over the country on small organisations that have been providing value to our country.
The second point I would like to make quickly is the erosion of our cultural identity with regard to the demise of public service broadcasting. This Government is about to
axe TVNZ 7, and it is a travesty. It will erode our identity. This Government puts a value on individualism, on reality TV, and on funding programmes that are made about Australia not about our own country. It is a travesty. It is an erosion of cultural identity, and we oppose it. Thank you.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I call Catherine Delahunty. I have called the member, but the debate is now interrupted and set down for resumption next sitting day.