01 Jul 2019

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Stephen Wainwright
Posted by Stephen Wainwright

Chief Executive | Pou Whakahaere

Te whakanui i te rua tekau ma rima tau – Celebrating 25 years

E te tau tawhito – haere me ō huhua maha. E te tau hou – nau mai me tō anga whakamua.

We farewell the past with its many learnings and we welcome the future and the potential that it brings.

It’s hard to believe but it’s now 25 years since, as a result of new legislation in 1994, we morphed from the QE II Arts Council to the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa or Creative New Zealand, which is our best known name.

We had some cake and got together on 1 July to mark the occasion and share some stories from the past quarter-century.

Someone once said that three key roles of the arts are to:

  • acknowledge the past
  • present the present, and
  • audition the future.

I guess it’s broadly similar with significant birthdays too; this reflection amplified by the resonance of Matariki time.

Acknowledging the past

So, in looking back across the last 25 years we should acknowledge the many staff, assessors, board members, practitioners and supporters who’ve helped shape us.

Some important people are no longer with us but whose deep contributions I want to acknowledge – people like Cliff Whiting, Ngapo Wehi, Chris Doig and Jonathan Mane-Wheoki for example, with their work on our boards and lives in the arts.

The late Waana Davis, Foundation Chair of Toi Māori Aotearoa, is another who’s been in our thoughts these past few weeks.

Presenting the present

In recent years we’ve been fortunate to have relatively more public resources to invest than we have before, to address a bigger sector, and a more diverse and larger population.

Consistent with the greater focus on public sector accountability and direction-setting, we are clear on our intentions. We’re beginning to re-invest our resources in alignment with our key strategies: the Pacific Arts Strategy; Te Hā o Ngā Toi, our Māori arts strategy; our Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua; and our new 10-year Statement of Intent, coming this month.

Our statutory purpose has remained remarkably consistent over time: to encourage, promote, and support the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders. This is what we do every day.

Auditioning the future

I’m imagining now that it’s our 50th birthday – the Golden Jubilee if you will. The long-term impact of our mahi now, in 2019, is paying a future social, economic and cultural dividend.

Some wise folk, knowledgeable about our work and context, have gathered in 2044. They’re doing the tough job of looking back and identifying the three questions they thought were most important for Creative New Zealand between years 25 and 50.

  1. How well did Creative New Zealand, with the sector and government, materially improve the circumstances and prospects of creative practitioners over that time?
  2. How well did Creative New Zealand, with the sector and government, open the door for creatives to make a much bigger contribution to the wellbeing agenda?
  3. How well did Creative New Zealand, with the sector, government and the public, develop an arts ecology that is so relevant to New Zealanders that our arts engagement rates are the envy of the world?

It’d be great to hear from you about what you think those three ‘how well’ questions might be. As always, my inbox is open: askthece@creativenz.govt.nz


Mā pango mā whero, ka oti te mahi
With black and with red the work is completed