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 first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be considered by the Government Administration Committee, that the committee present its final report on or before 3 December 2010, and that the committee have the authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting, except during oral questions, during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, despite Standing Orders 192 and 195(1) (b) and (c).
This is a great day for the arts in New Zealand. The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill replaces the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 1994, and the purpose of the bill is to streamline the governance structure of the Arts Council of New Zealand, otherwise known as Creative New Zealand. Let me remind the House of the role the council plays in the cultural life of New Zealand.
Grant Robertson: Please do.
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: When Mr Robertson goes to a performance by Black Grace or the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and stays for the entire performance, when he attends a Taki Rua or Auckland Theatre Company production, when he supports his friends’ sons and daughters’ performances at the Smokefree Rockquest, or when he attends writers and readers festivals or Style Pasifika, he should know that those arts events are supported by the Arts Council. Those are just a fraction of the arts activities and organisations that receive support from that great institution.
The council also awards bursaries and scholarships to help our best and brightest in their chosen field, it partners with local authorities on community arts initiatives around New Zealand, and it awards hundreds of grants each year through the contestable funding programme. It also administers major awards, such as the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement and the Michael King Writers’ Fellowship. The council’s decisions are made independently of the Government and are informed by assessments from fellow artists. I strongly believe in the arm’s length funding model because I do not think politicians should be making decisions about particular arts projects.
Under the current legislation, the governance of the Arts Council consists of a seven-member council. I acknowledge the great contribution of Helen Kedgley, the sister of Sue Kedgley, to the seven-member Arts Council; Te Waka Toi; the Arts Board; and a committee of the Arts Board, the pacific arts committee. I have always considered that this structure was weird. It is cumbersome and it is top-heavy. A ratio of up to 28 appointed members for 55 staff is disproportionate. The four governing bodies are also a significant cost to the organisation, and that diverts resources from Creative New Zealand’s core business: arts, arts organisations, and arts development.
Other significant inefficiencies have been identified. The work of the council and the board overlaps. The council is expected to develop effective strategy and policy despite having no direct contact with the sector. The council is accountable for organisational performance even though it has no part in the board’s decision making. The lines of accountability between the Arts Board and management are not clear. The pacific arts committee’s status as a subsidiary, if you like, of the Arts Board also has complicated accountability arrangements.
This bill addresses these shortcomings by replacing the current complex structure with a single board, to be called the Arts Council. It will have 13 members, who will be appointed for their knowledge of professional and community arts. Part 1 of the bill
prescribes the new Arts Council’s functions, powers, and membership, and it reaffirms the council’s independence from ministerial direction in relation to cultural matters. For the purposes of the Crown Entities Act 2004, the members of the Arts Council will constitute the board.
The Arts Council will be responsible for determining strategic direction and priorities, and for funding decisions. Under clause 7(1)(c), funding will be allocated to projects for professional and community arts, including funding for Māori arts, the arts of the Pacific Island peoples of New Zealand, and the arts of the diverse cultures of New Zealand. The council will set guidelines for the allocation of funding and for community arts providers. Where appropriate, the council will use peer assessment processes for the allocation of funding. It is to be emphasised that Māori are to be included in any assessment process relevant to Māori arts, and Pacific Island peoples will be included in the assessments of arts of the Pacific Island peoples of New Zealand.
Clause 10(4) of the bill stipulates that at least four members of the Arts Council will be appointed with regard to their knowledge of te ao Māori, tikanga Māori, and Māori arts, and at least two will be appointed with regard to their knowledge of the arts of the Pacific Island peoples of New Zealand. These responsibilities reflect the Government’s particular responsibilities for tangata whenua and for the maintenance and promotion of Pacific Island peoples’ arts, particularly for those nations where such a large number of their population now reside in New Zealand.
Under clause 11(1) of the bill, at least four council members representing Māori will constitute a committee of the Arts Council. The committee will give advice and make recommendations to the council on matters relating to Māori arts, and it will carry out any other functions or powers delegated to it by the council. Under clause 10 of the bill, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage will appoint all 13 members of the council. The Minister of Māori Affairs will be consulted on the appointment of members who have knowledge of tikanga Māori and Māori arts, and the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs will be consulted on the appointment of the members with knowledge of the arts of Pacific Island peoples.
I believe that this new governance structure has very clear benefits. The responsibility for policy, strategy direction, and the allocation of funds will be contained within one body for greater efficiency. Fewer resources will be required, and staff will be freed up to focus on artists, arts organisations, and arts development. Māori and Pacific arts will be represented at the council table, with full participation in policy making and strategy setting, as well as in funding decisions. The council’s strategy will be informed by the direct experience of funding disbursement and sector issues. There will be clear lines of accountability from the council to the Minister and between the council and the chief executive. A more streamlined structure will improve service delivery, and, I believe, it will be less costly.
Under the bill, the powers and functions of the existing arts boards related to community arts providers and community arts councils will transfer to the Arts Council. Under section 10 of the 1994 Act, the Arts Council must produce and consult on a strategic plan every 3 years. This bill does not continue that requirement, with the reason being that under the Crown Entities Act 2004 the Arts Council is already required to produce a statement of intent. Stakeholders can expect to continue consultation through the annual letter of expectation from the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
The Arts Council looked at various governance models during its review, in consultation with former chairs of the council, arts boards, Pacific arts committees, and related Government agencies. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage consulted Māori and Pacific arts organisations and also community leaders about their view, and I have
to say there was broad support for the proposals but concerns about representation of Māori and Pacific Island people in the new structure. I tried to address these measures in the bill in order to address those concerns. The select committee will, of course, provide opportunity for further feedback.
I am confident that the governance model I have outlined today will improve the Art Council’s efficiency and responsiveness and ensure the best investment of resources for the benefit of New Zealand artists, arts organisations, and, indeed, the wider community. I hope that the bill will receive wide support, as the changes it includes will deliver better value for taxpayer dollars and a more efficient service directory for an organisation that has done a great deal for New Zealand since a previous National Government created it in the 1960s. I commend the bill to the House.
GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central)
: I am pleased to be able to rise and speak on the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. I acknowledge how well-dressed the Assistant Speaker is. I particularly admire his tie—a common thing on this side of the House today, I see. This bill that the Minister has brought to the House is one that Labour is prepared to support going through to a select committee, because we understand that a number of issues have been raised around the efficiency and the operations of the Arts Council, or Creative New Zealand as it is commonly called. But our support for the bill is only for it to go to a select committee.
We have a number of concerns, which the Minister himself alluded to at the end of his speech, about representation and about the ability of the restructured council to fairly represent the diversity of people in New Zealand and fairly represent the arts communities of New Zealand through this model. When the bill goes to Parliament’s all-powerful Government Administration Committee, we will want to hear a wide range of submissions. In fact, I will encourage the Government Administration Committee to go out and seek direct feedback from the Māori and Pacific communities, and also from other communities in New Zealand, particularly the growing Asian communities. It is worth noting that Creative New Zealand has a very difficult job in balancing up the different arts communities in New Zealand. It looks on paper as though creating a structure such as this will be efficient and will allow for more direct accountability, but it raises questions about the ability to be representative of those different communities. That is certainly what we will be looking out for.
Any change that creates efficiency in a Government body is a good thing, but efficiency has to be balanced against the purpose of an organisation. The purposes of the Arts Council continue to be reflected in this bill, and they are certainly ones that Labour strongly supports. The Arts Council has done, as Mr Finlayson mentioned earlier, some excellent things and funded some excellent programmes—many of them events and groups that were developed under the previous Labour Government, and we are very pleased to see that those things are continuing. But the purposes and principles of the Arts Council are to recognise the cultural diversity of the people of New Zealand, recognise the role of Māori as tangata whenua, recognise the role of the arts for Pacific peoples, and support participation and involvement in the arts and access to the arts.
Another concern that we would also like to take up at the select committee is the role of the community arts councils. I appreciate the fact that the bill continues to provide for community arts councils at a local level, but we need to make sure that the arrangements facilitate community arts councils being both directly accountable to their communities and representative of them. It would be fair to say there are some concerns around different parts of the community arts sector about whether this model will see the arts moving further away from local communities and more towards major towns, and centralised into perhaps what some would call a Wellington-based mind-set. As
someone who perhaps has a Wellington-based mind-set I can understand, though, why people—
John Hayes: Or even no mind-set.
GRANT ROBERTSON: —perhaps in Mr Hayes’ electorate in the Wairarapa may look at some of the proposals, and ask what is in them for the provinces.
Obviously those concerns are heightened with the recent announcement by the Arts Council regarding the recurrently funded organisations. We look particularly at the theatre sector, where we see that in the new arts leadership fund, which has been put forward to replace part of the funding of the recurrently funded organisations—
Hon Christopher Finlayson: For discussion.
GRANT ROBERTSON: —or put out for discussion; I am sorry, I say to Mr Finlayson. It is obviously a consultative process, but there is quite a lot of concern about that in places like Palmerston North and Dunedin, where it is quite likely that organisations will receive no recurrent funding. That will obviously be detrimental to those communities. At the moment the proposal tells us that there will be support available for three theatre companies only: one in Christchurch, one in Auckland, and one in Wellington. In fact, that presents problems even in Wellington, where currently two theatre companies receive recurrent funding.
So there is concern about the direction of the Arts Council in terms of regional and provincial arts support. Anything that is done structurally, as it is done in this bill, that might exacerbate that problem is something that we will be watching extremely carefully.
I hear two things from the arts community as I travel around New Zealand. There is some dissatisfaction with the way in which the arts are funded. Certainly in regional areas that has never been any different, whoever the Government is. People who miss out on funding are always upset about that. But it is important to have a system that ensures that funding is spread around the country, and people are concerned about that.
Hon Christopher Finlayson: And demography needs to talk.
GRANT ROBERTSON: Indeed. The other concern that people have is about the question of certainty and the ability to plan within the arts community. I think that is the chief concern of those people in provincial areas who look set now to miss out on recurrent funding. They may well be able to apply for the shorter-term funds that the Minister is proposing, but that does not give them or their communities certainty about the future of arts funding. These are the issues that the select committee needs to take up in some detail.
On the question of representation, it is all very well to say there will be Māori and Pasifika representation on the newly reconstituted board, but that is very difficult, as many people in the House will know, when boards like this are set up. It will put a great deal of pressure on the four members who are Māori or the two members who are of Pasifika origin. It will put a great deal of pressure on them to be able to represent those communities. I think we need to work through that issue in the select committee to see whether it will provide the kind of representation of those communities that we need. As I stated earlier, we also have some concerns about other communities who are developing artistic profiles in New Zealand, particularly Asian communities.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Ten percent.
GRANT ROBERTSON: Indeed. A number of us have attended Creative New Zealand - funded events involving the Asian community, and I think most of us would like to see that develop more over time. It will be important that the reconstituted arts board is able to represent those concerns. There is also the matter of youth participation in the arts, and of making sure that that perspective continues to be seen. Those are the issues that we will want to tease out.
I want to mention the comment that the Minister made that the council will now no longer be able to—
Jacqui Dean: Take the full 10 minutes.
GRANT ROBERTSON: It is a very important issue, I say to Ms Dean. The council will no longer have to put in place a 3-year strategic plan. It will use the statement of intent process. Again, that is an issue in terms of certainty and planning, and I think there is some justification for the council taking a longer-term strategic approach. Ministers and those who have worked in Ministers’ offices know all about the statement of intent process, and it is not as perfect as it might be.
Hon Christopher Finlayson: In my office it is.
GRANT ROBERTSON: Everything in that Minister’s office is perfect. He has led a life of blameless excellence. I do not think it is sufficient for the statement of intent process to guide the work of the Arts Council. I think that the 3-year strategic plan process has been a good one, and certainly Labour at this point will be seeking to have that reinserted into this bill.
It is not always possible when we are at arts events, as Mr Finlayson and I often are, to be able to say we are covering all the arts. That is the thought that I will conclude on. It is vitally important that the Arts Council supports a balanced provision of the arts. Mr Finlayson and I will be going to a performance of the Orpheus Choir in a couple of weeks’ time here in Wellington, and no doubt he will be attending many other events, as he does. He may even find his way down to Bar Bodega to see some of the New Zealand music that is performed there, or go to Palmerston North to see the Centrepoint Theatre. We need to continue to support a balanced provision of the arts in New Zealand, and we need to ensure that the council that sits behind them is structured in a way that allows it to facilitate that balanced provision. That is what we will be seeking when this bill goes to the select committee. We will make our judgment after the select committee process as to whether we will support the bill going any further than that.
JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki)
: I rise to speak on the first reading of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. I note the concerns of my colleague across the House about representation. I am sure that Minister Finlayson’s very wise choice to send the bill to the all-powerful Government Administration Committee will ensure that we have good discussion on issues such as representation. I know also that a member of our committee, Kanwaljit Bakshi, often raises the issue of Asian representation, so he keeps those issues to the forefront. I know that he will make a good contribution to this bill.
This is a good bill. It will streamline the provision of funding for arts in New Zealand. As a former practitioner of arts in the theatre, I have been a beneficiary of—
Grant Robertson: Which theatre?
JACQUI DEAN: Quite a few, actually. I could run through them, but we will save those for another time. From my earliest performing days, when I was based in Palmerston North at the Centrepoint Theatre and at the Children’s Art Theatre in Wanganui, we would make applications to the Arts Council of New Zealand—as I think it was called then—and we would get funding for our various projects. It was valuable to me as a young performer, enabling me to work professionally for a very meagre pay, if I remember. However, that did not seem to matter quite so much back in those days because the satisfaction of performing far outweighed what we were recompensed. In fact, I would go as far as to say that no theatre job I have ever done anywhere in New Zealand has paid anything more than peanuts. Again, that is not addressed in this bill, but I just note—
Grant Robertson: What about
Play School? That paid well.
JACQUI DEAN: Television New Zealand was a different matter. I note it in the context of the commitment—I am making a serious point here—of performing artists in New Zealand. That is why performing artists who make the commitment to make performing arts their life and work—as I did for a number of years, and I loved and valued the work I did—value the critical support of Creative New Zealand for that work; it remains the same today. With a streamlined unitary board coming out of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, I can see a much more comprehensive approach to enabling arts in New Zealand.
In my brief contribution I will talk about community arts providers. I have also sat as a local government representative on a local community arts funding board. That is right down at the community level. I sat in the boardroom in Ōāmaru council buildings hearing applications for community groups to run community events to be funded by Creative New Zealand and the Creative Communities scheme. Those small community events, from memory, ranged from creative dance events at Teschemakers to productions up at Kurow. Applications were made for grants of maybe $500 or $600. That does not sound like a lot of money when we are sitting here in the Parliament in Wellington, but the kinds of grants that are granted into small communities throughout New Zealand are significant not only for young performers who wish to make their way in the arts in New Zealand but also for community groups who love the arts for themselves.
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister Finlayson, has brought a good bill to this House. I am determined that the all-powerful Government Administration Committee will give it its due. We will consider the issues raised by our Labour colleagues. I recognise and appreciate that they support this bill going through to the select committee. We will make a thorough examination of the bill and try to come to a consensus, so that Labour can continue to support the passage of this excellent bill through the House. With those words I commend the bill to the House.
BRENDON BURNS (Labour—Christchurch Central)
: Labour is supporting the passage of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill to the Government Administration Committee, and that is appropriate. Arts are the mirror of our soul as a nation. It is rather like a man’s tie being a mirror of his soul, and I compliment Mr Assistant Speaker Barker on his choice of tie.
I note that this bill covers the arts sector, which reflects our unique identity as New Zealanders. I must also note that it is a little sad that this legislation is not paralleled in the broadcasting sphere, which is another window to our unique culture as New Zealanders. We do not see the unique identity of New Zealanders reflected in another bill before the Parliament in relation to Television New Zealand. None the less, Labour is supporting any changes in efficiency that this bill is designed to introduce in respect of the arts culture of our nation. We support the bill being referred to the select committee, and we will use that select committee process to put Creative New Zealand under the microscope. We want to see, and ensure, that the arts funding agency for our nation provides funding that reflects the principles of this bill.
We have some reservations about the legislation. We have a concern that it might impede, or even strangle, some aspects of arts funding. We are very explicit that we want to see the maintenance of strong Māori and Pacific representation on the council, and we are concerned that under the proposals this bill contains there will not be enough voices for those communities in the arts sector. Obviously we are concerned that the replacement of Te Waka Toi, which has been a representative body for the Māori cultural and arts community, will simply be enfolded into the Arts Council. We will look through the legislation at the select committee, and we will question whether there will be sufficient representation, not just for the Māori arts community but for those
represented under the current structure, for the Pasifika arts community, and for the wider ethnic communities that often contribute so much to the cultural vibrancy that the arts now represents across our nation. We can think of people like Jacob Rajan and the series of plays that he has produced and delivered across this nation, supported, I believe, by the previous Arts Council structure. It is really important that funding for those works is maintained under this reform legislation.
Youth are not currently strongly represented in terms of the arts administrative structure. Youth, of course, can very often be the most innovative, the most challenging, and sometimes the most marginalised members of the arts community. It is important that we consider that they also need to have their voice heard in the administration of the arts in our nation.
We are concerned that the legislation discontinues the current requirement of the Arts Council to present a strategic plan every 3 years, although under the Crown Entities Act 2004 the Arts Council is already required to produce a statement of intent. If we do not have that kind of road map for the arts in terms of a strategic plan, we have to ask where the direction will be coming from. If it is to come from the Minister, then clearly we would have some disquiet about that. Those are the issues that we will be looking through in the select committee process.
I want to talk for a moment about the importance of arts communities outside of the main centres of Wellington and Auckland as provided for in this legislation. I note, for instance, in my city of Christchurch how essential the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is to the arts profile of our city. Indeed, it goes wider than our city because people come from far and wide to hear the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra perform. It is a regional institution and it is a South Island institution. People drive from Nelson, the West Coast, and Timaru to attend a Christchurch Symphony Orchestra performance. We want to be assured that there will be embodied in this legislation strong voices for the arts of our regions, because in the case of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, it provides more than just a feeder service to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; it provides very much a home for talented people, and a training ground for people who may go on to international distinction in the arts, and they deserve to be recognised.
Just last week, I went with Labour’s arts spokesperson, the Hon Steve Chadwick, to the Court Theatre in the heart of my electorate of Christchurch Central. It was an eye-opener for me to see the nature of the facilities that accord a very fine theatre and a theatre with a distinguished record of productions for over 20 or 30 years now. But the way the Court Theatre delivers its productions is extraordinary. The theatre is in a building that has very cramped facilities. A clutch of rabbit warrens out the back are provided for administration staff and other staff. The stage is limited and does not have any capacity to revolve. Obviously, funding is the key to the current state of the Court Theatre and many other theatres across the nation. Although we know we are currently in recession, I want to be assured that institutions in my city of Christchurch will not be penalised by a top-heavy, Wellington-centric or Auckland-centric Arts Council into the future. We must have thriving arts communities outside our two major centres to ensure that our national sense of self is reflected through the arts.
If we go beyond the bigger centres, including Christchurch, we look to centres like Blenheim, where I lived for 14 years, and recognise the importance to a community like that of having a public art gallery. The Millennium Art Gallery was opened in 2000 by Helen Clark, who supported it through the process of establishment. I add that my wife was a founding trustee of the gallery. It continues to provide a platform for the arts in the community of Marlborough. It contains not just the highbrow stuff. I was at the opening 2 weeks ago of an exhibition of photographs taken by Peter Bush. Across the walls of the gallery were photographs that he had taken since 1948, which I think was
the year he covered his first rugby test match. He was accompanied at the opening by Keith Quinn. Here was quintessential New Zealand culture: two icons of New Zealand rugby were displaying their craft by way of photographs taken by “Bushy”, and by way of the wonderful commentary of Keith Quinn. It was a magical event and it can take place only in an environment like a properly funded gallery with the capacity to do justice to the photographs, and to have the lighting and curatorial staff that can put together an exhibition like that. They ran sessions over that weekend with “Bushy” and Quinn to allow people to engage with the photographer and the raconteur. We need to be assured that under this new Arts Council legislation smaller communities like Marlborough are able to continue to provide arts services to their communities.
We are obviously looking at this bill in respect of the way it empowers the establishment of community arts councils, and the fact that under this bill the Arts Council may be able to appoint territorial authorities to administer community arts councils subject to the consent of the authority. We question whether this process looks likely to encourage, foster, and stimulate some of the avant-garde kinds of arts that really end up making a huge contribution to, and mark on, New Zealand.
I think of the Wearable Arts Awards, which started in a back garden. Suzie Moncrieff had the idea in Nelson some 20-plus years ago. It began, was supported by the local community, and became not just a Nelson phenomenon, not just a Wellington phenomenon, having moved to the capital, but indeed an international phenomenon. It was supported by the arts community firstly in Nelson and then here in Wellington. We should consider the benefit that it has brought to us as a nation in terms of the return on those early days of small support and investment through the arts funding structure at the time.
We support this bill. We want to make sure that it continues the good work that the Arts Council has done. We particularly want to see that smaller communities and centres outside of Auckland and Wellington are represented, fostered, encouraged, and able to deliver a platform of arts when this bill is passed. We will support it going to the select committee. We encourage the Government to be open in the process so that we can be assured that into the future New Zealand arts will continue to thrive as a mirror on our soul, which we all know is very important to us and our own sense of being New Zealanders.
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker Barker. He mihi nui ki a koutou. Before I start my speech on the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill, I mihi to the arts community, particularly for the loss they experienced last week. I mihi to the whānau of Mahea Tōmoana of Ngāti Kahungunu, who was a friend of mine. Mahea Tōmoana and his wife, Ngaromoana Raureti Tōmoana, are examples of artistic excellence. There is an ancient saying from Aotearoa “Where there is artistic excellence there is human dignity”. I mihi to those people; I know that it affected the whole arts community when Mahea died suddenly last week. I put that on the record because these artists have made such a contribution from that whānau to this House.
I also acknowledge the importance of the Arts Council. I grew up in a family totally committed to the arts. My father and mother were actors in the Unity Theatre in Aro Street in Wellington, and I grew up in a house full of literature, full of drama, and full of writing. I have been a lucky recipient of Arts Council grants for the fiction writing that I have done. I know how hard people struggle to get grants and I know how wonderful it is when one gets a small amount of money when one is a struggling artist.
I am very happy to be speaking on this issue. Arts and culture is my portfolio—one of about 11. I must say I regret that I have little time as a list MP with 11 portfolios to attend arts events and participate in all the wonderful things that happen. They have to
be fitted in between all the other things, but every event I have been to has enhanced my commitment to the importance of things like arts councils and properly organised, strategically managed funding.
To return to the bill, the Green Party has mixed feelings about the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. We have mixed feelings because of the mixed feedback we have had about the public support for it. We have had a range of feedback from the arts community about the restructuring of the Arts Council nationally, and the community arts providers in the regional and local communities. We have decided, on balance, to support the first reading of the bill because it is a good example of a bill that may or may not improve the delivery of arts funding in Aotearoa. But we are keen to hear from the many voices involved from arts communities, particularly tangata whenua and Pasifika arts voices and organisations.
We have huge concerns around the proposed restructuring. At first glance the restructuring would appear to weaken the ability of tangata whenua to have a self-determining body deciding on the use of pūtea for Māori arts. The bill replaces Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Committee, which were separate committees for Māori and Pacific artists. They have been separate up till now, and had separate moneys from the Arts Council. As a party committed to Te Tiriti o Waitangi we looked at these proposed changes dubiously. Too often the concept of having four designated Māori members and two Pacific nations members in a council of 13 smacks of tokenism.
We are not sure how this bill will work but we are prepared to see what the voices say at the select committee on this issue. As any of us who have been involved in Treaty work—and I have been for 20 years of my life—know, when one is in a minority group that is dominated by the dominant culture, it is harder to get heard and it is harder to get resources. So we have to assure ourselves that in the name of streamlining we are not destroying the valuable work that Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Committee did.
As people have mentioned already in this House this evening, there are other communities too that are not Pākehā but need to be heard. So often Pākehā assume that we are the ones who should speak for all, but we cannot. We need to make sure that those voices are at the table—not in a tokenistic way but in a way that they will be heard. I heard the Minister say that clause 11 will address that for tangata whenua, but it remains to be seen how the power balances will actually pan out.
Speaking also about Pacific nations communities, this island of ours, Aotearoa, is a Pacific nation. We float in Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa—the great ocean of Kiwa—and we have a Pacific bias. It actually affects all of us who have grown up here. We need to be really strong in making sure that those voices are heard. Much of the most stimulating, amazing, and interesting art—and I am on the Artworks Committee here in Parliament—comes from Māori and Pacific people. They have had to fight so hard for the money to be able to participate in the public life of the country. They have had to struggle, just as they have had to struggle right across the board in every forum, to get committees like Te Waka Toi and the South Pacific Arts Committee. We need to listen to their voices.
We sought to hear from some of those voices, and we have not had a clear message yet. We do not know whether we have not heard a clear message because these communities are happy with the streamlining, or they have simply given up because they are deflated and alienated by yet another restructure. We do not know the answer to that question, and we will not second-guess them. We know who we are and who we are not. It is important that there is a select committee process that allows us to encourage and stimulate all of those voices to be heard, and to find out whether this
restructuring—from two separate committees feeding into the main council, to seats at the main board—will be a better result for them.
I think it is really important to recognise that the arts community is huge and diverse. There are many, many voices in it, and it is not simple to sort out the funding. I recognise that the Minister is trying to uphold the importance, the value, and the resources of the Arts Council, but if there is to be a fair and equitable result that will be better for everybody, then we need to be convinced that this change is really valuable. We hope that the select committee will hear from the networks, and we will encourage the networks to participate.
Having been involved with arts for years, I do not think that making submissions is their favourite thing—surprisingly! In fact, a lot of us do not find it very fabulous, so it may be difficult for them to feel confident that their style of communication will be heard and valued in this forum. It will not be about how much money they make; it will be about the expression of their voice. If we have an economic analysis, we will know that one of the strengths of Aotearoa New Zealand—and one of the reasons why manuhiri come here—is the fantastic arts that this country produces. We have looked at the Arts Council restructuring and we are yet to be convinced, although we are prepared to go to the select committee and see.
Some of the other provisions are interesting. I have been talking to community arts providers and community councils; like many people, I spent a lot of my time in small communities before I came to Parliament, and I go back to a small community. It is interesting what those community arts organisers and networkers say. They say that this bill might be positive, but it might not. They are looking for a clearer definition about who will get the money and how the restructure will be an improvement on the way things are currently managed.
I also agree with comments about the loss of a strategic plan, because these community arts providers can have their funding cut off if they do not meet the intent of the national body. If there is no long-term strategic plan for that body, those community providers will be second-guessing. Anyone who has spent years doing funding applications knows that second-guessing is very difficult when one is in a town like Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa—Gisborne—or a town at the top of the Coromandel and is trying to work out what the Arts Council wants in those applications. What language is it looking for? What is the jargon? What is the buzz? We all know that if people do not use the right language, they do not get the money. It is quite complex if there is no long-term strategic plan.
They also raised issues about the main relationship being with local government and about the statement of intent. I was also concerned that many of these people said that this bill may be all right on its own terms, but it does not address the key problems of bureaucracy that we are facing. We face a lack of strategic clarity and we do not know whether the direction will improve or change. We are playing a waiting game.
Therefore, the groups we have talked to in communities have had very mixed views. At the same time, I have not heard an outcry. Often with bills, if there is an outcry then we know for sure it is time to say no at its first reading. We have not heard that outcry yet, although it may be gathering steam. We will see; we will certainly be interested in seeing it stimulated. Wherever we see a change to a structure that results in people being marginalised by the nature of their culture, or where there is a potential breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we have to ask questions. We have to ask whether it will really be in the best interests of Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole, because it is as a whole that we will function best as an arts community.
It is a highly competitive field. Many, many people are used to doing everything on the smell of an oily paint rag, or whatever their art form is, and they have to struggle to
get money. It is not easy stuff. If there is to be change and if we are to maintain artistic excellence and human dignity, we need to have the clarity that goes with that.
The Green Party debated this bill quite vigorously, but we came down on the side of sending the bill to a select committee. Again, I say that I am hopeful that we will hear a lot of voices on this bill, because change for change’s sake will not necessarily improve arts funding. I hear the Minister talk about the wonderful work that the Arts Council has done in the past, and that is true. It is a vibrant part of what it means to be in this country.
DAVID GARRETT (ACT)
: I do not think that I will surprise any members of the House by revealing that I am not a great patron of the arts myself, although I did go to the ballet once about 20 years ago and I have been to one or two plays over time. But in the absence of that great patron of the arts, our leader, the Hon Rodney Hide, I will do my very best to speak on the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill.
As members will be aware, one of the things as a new member that I find most pleasing is when I am able to agree with other members of the House, particularly on the Government side, and even more so on the Greens’ side. I am delighted to say that until she lost me about 10 minutes in, I found the speech of Catherine Delahunty refreshing. I found that I agreed with most of it, until she lost me. The bit that I enjoyed and agreed with the most was the focus on Māori and Pasifika art. I think it is not unknown that I have a connection with the Pacific. At the risk of offending my colleague to my left, Te Ururoa Flavell, I say that I find Tongan dancing considerably more appealing than the local variant here.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Of course you would.
DAVID GARRETT: It is not just my wife; it is—
Catherine Delahunty: It’s a matter of taste, David.
DAVID GARRETT: Exactly—a matter of taste.
I am very pleased that the emphasis appears to be going away from people whom I understand are known as luvvies—who are fond of obscure plays by a chap called Pinter and stuff like that—and more towards Pacific and Māori art, which has a greater connection with our country.
Clare Curran: What about Tom Stoppard?
DAVID GARRETT: Oh, he is an English fellow, I believe. I have not had the pleasure of seeing any of his works.
That was the good bit. Now I will revert to type just for a moment and say that we were very happy to hear—it was music to our ears, in fact—the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage say that one of the things this bill does is reduce the number of luvvies who hand out the money. We are in favour of streamlining and reducing numbers, so that has to be a good thing.
I was very happy to find positive things in the Minister’s speech. From what I could follow, I think I agreed with Mr Robertson, but I suspect that he is more of a patron of the arts than me. As I said, in respect of the first bit of Ms Delahunty’s speech, I found myself very capable of approving of that. Having said that, I will allow my colleague Te Ururoa Flavell to speak, and I say that the ACT Party supports this bill with much pleasure. Thank you.
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker Barker. Kia ora tātou. I do not have too much to contribute, because like my colleague David Garrett it is not as if I am an artiste, but Māori performing arts—that is where some of the action is at. In fact last week we had the kapa haka competitions in Te Arawa. Te Arawa came second, but that is all right; we came second.
I want to make a couple of important points in respect of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill. As we know, and as I think the Minister pointed out, this bill
replaces the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 1994, which established the council known as Creative New Zealand. Under the 1994 Act the governance structure is made up of a council of seven members and two boards: the Arts Board with seven members, and, secondly, Te Waka Toi with seven members. This bill replaces the old structure with a single board, to be known as the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa—the Arts Council.
Catherine Delahunty alluded to one matter that we have a concern about, although having said that, with most first readings of bills we try to let them have some air. We let them go out for public debate and consideration. One of the issues we want to raise is around the make-up of the council, and in particular, I suppose, the relegation of Te Waka Toi in terms of membership and status.
This bill determines that the Arts Council will consist of 13 members who will be appointed by the Minister, and that at least four members must be acknowledged as people who have qualified for appointment because they have at least a regard for, or understanding and knowledge of, Te Ao Māori, tikanga Māori, and Māori arts. Bearing in mind that Te Waka Toi has been an important part of Māori art and creativity for a period of time, I will reflect on some of the discussion that has come back to us from the people who have been involved in this particular area. As someone who has been at least involved in the Toi Iho branding exercise, as well as being involved in Te Waka Toi—and aside from what Catherine Delahunty said about not having much feedback—I can say that the Māori Party has had some feedback from some of the people involved. To be truthful, many of them were trying to work out any benefits that might come from the change from having a Māori board of seven people serviced by its own unit of Māori staff, to having a mainstream council where Māori are but four of 13 people who may form an Arts Council committee.
Catherine Delahunty talked about the fact that the proposed new structure destroys a Māori icon and a successful, positive arts model for, and by, Māori. It takes away a body that has its own whakapapa, its own history that is identified with whānau, hapū, and iwi, and urban Māori authorities, significant Māori individuals, tohunga, artists, and communities. So there is the rub. She said further that when she heard about the changes she believed that it meant that the vital and important entity of Te Waka Toi would be lost to us for ever, and she could not see the reason for it. She was not, at that point, convinced that there was any good for Māori, for New Zealand, or, indeed, for the international communities that identify the Te Waka Toi brand with high-quality Māori art and culture. So there is an issue that hopefully will be considered by the select committee.
The second issue is around the protection of Māori quality, which Toi Iho, the Māori brand, was all about: maintaining the quality, and authenticity issues. The feedback that we have had is concern about an inability of the Government to protect, in particular, Māori concepts and symbols. In fact, we see many cases of them being misused, misappropriated, and mistreated. I cite the incident, for example, of a Māori face moko kit promoted on an American Halloween store website. I cite the incidents of the use of Māori designs by a person by the name of Philip Morris on cigarette packaging, and a baker’s advertisement in which gingerbread men performing a haka are flattened by a giant bag of white flour. I cite the incidents of the copyright use of Māori names by the Danish toy company Lego, and the use of the so-called Māori warrior in the Sony game. I also cite the designs that featured in
Vogue from Jean-Paul Gaultier’s collection, in which the use of the moko is combined with images that, from our perspective, were culturally offensive—namely, a female model with a moko is posing sitting with her legs open, and the other images convey a theme of cannibalism.
As soon as some of these images hit the headlines we know that Māoridom certainly waits and shakes, and therefore we hope to find some mechanism that allows those sorts of images to be protected; in the past, Te Waka Toi was that. We hope that there is some mechanism that protects those particular images where possible, and we hope that in the select committee process those points are made to allow this to happen. With that, I say thank you very much. Kia ora tātou.
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa)
: One of the lessons of life—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): I regret to advise the member that it has gone 6 o’clock.