Oh, look – a trough for creative and cultural Kiwis (but ethnicity considerations might curb a rush of applications)

Latest from the Beehive – 

One of the less challenging jobs for a Minister of the Crown is dipping into a trough within his ministerial gift and hoping for favourable headlines by dishing out grants.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford – who has fallen short of counting Kiwbuild and Auckland light rail among his political triumphs – proved to be a dab hand at distributing money from the Creative and Cultural Events Incubator trough at the weekend.

Four Māori and Pasifika events will receive up to $100,000 each in funding.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, had the similarly unchallenging task of announcing the inaugural launch of Kiribati Language Week as part of the 2020 Pacific Language Weeks programme.

The government – or rather, taxpayers – will provide “resourcing support” to the Kiribati community in New Zealand to help them run their language week activities for the first time.

The 2019 Wellbeing Budget provided $20 million to establish a Pacific Languages Unit within the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.  Funding support to the Kiribati and Rotuman communities comes from this.

The Kiribati population in New Zealand is 3,225 people, according to the 2018 Census.

Sio did not say how much funding was being pumped into Kiribati Laanguage Week.

His colleague, Phil Twyford, announced four handouts from the Creative and Cultural Events Incubator fund, which is intended for events which:

  • are socially, culturally, or economically significant for New Zealand, and
  • have exhausted market-based solutions, and
  • without support, would not be able to re-start or need to be significantly re-scaled,


  • Events which will assist the market to retain sector-critical event organisers and suppliers for the long-term viability of the industry.

But we suggest aspiring applicants should check out ethnicity requirements.

The four events that were successful in the inaugural funding round are:

  • Kia Mau Festival, Wellington
  • Māoriland Film Festival, Otaki
  • Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, Gisborne
  • Te Matatini, Auckland 2021.

Twyford said the fund – launched earlier this year to provide seed and development funding for creative and cultural events – was set up as part of the government’s new direction for major events which aims to better support creative and cultural events to become internationally significant.

Then he said:

“This is just the start. We will reopen the fund for further applications later this year, as our goal is to help many more Māori and Pasifika arts and culture events flourish.

“We must celebrate creative events that are culturally unique to New Zealand, and that help shine a positive light on our place in the world. These events are great examples of that and have strong plans for growth to achieve the global attention we want.”

Say that again – culturally unique to New Zealand.

That’s one way of applying a colour bar without actually saying so.

The incubator is part of the Major Events Fund and is a ring-fenced amount of up to $1 million per annum or 10 per cent of available funds.

Up to $1.5 million is currently available for incubator investments for the first three rounds including this one.

A quick check by Point of Order established that this is not the first trough to help nourish Maoriland Productions.

Early last month the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) announced that more than $1.2 million had been awarded to 33 companies, through its business and slate development schemes BOOST, BOOST UP and He Ara.

Making the announcement, commission chief executive Annabelle Sheehan said a record number of applications – 90 – was received across the three initiatives and the request for funds totalled  $4.6 million.

The successful applicants included Maoriland Charitable Trust, which was given $50,000 “to develop a slate of Indigenous-led feature films”.

Mind you, this is peanuts compared with the corporate welfare distributed to much bigger businesses in the film industry.

Earlier this year Matt Nippert in NZ Herald i revealed that New Zealand pays out millions of dollars in subsidies to the screen industry every year.

Sir Peter Jackson’s Wellington-based Weta Group receives more than $40 million of the annual sum.

Eric Crampton, at the New Zealand Initiative,was critical:  

“What we’re not seeing are the other industries that might be here employing people instead if we didn’t have massive subsidies going into the film sector and diverting people into those areas,” Mr Crampton told TVNZ 1’s Breakfast.

“It’s hard to imagine any industry in the country that wouldn’t argue that if they could just get a 20 per cent rebate on everything that they spend in the country with opportunity for another five per cent back if they can show that there is enough benefit to New Zealand – every industry would love to have that kind of arrangement,” he says.

Crampton says there is around $170 million spent in subsidies to international films.

He says other industries are also affected by not getting a slice of that money, because they aren’t getting the people they need in the right jobs.

“The video game industry at the end of last year was complaining that they can’t get workers because they’re all being sucked in to video animation in the subsidised film industry,” he says. 

“Where does it end? We shouldn’t be on this kind of rollercoaster. Every country in the world competes on these kinds of subsidies and it’s a mistake to be in that game.”

Our kindly PM, Jacinda Ardern, disagreed. She says she believes the flow on affect of the film sector is worth it for New Zealand.

“You ask anyone who works in the industry whether or not it makes a difference… the flow on affect is huge,” the Prime Minister said today.

“The film industry is completely unique.” 


13 JULY 2020

Funding boost for four cultural events

Four celebrated Māori and Pasifika events will receive up to $100,000 each in funding from the new Creative and Cultural Events Incubator fund, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford announced today.

Hon Phil Twyford

Economic Development


11 JULY 2020

Inaugural launch of Kiribati Language Week

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio is pleased to announce the inaugural launch of Kiribati Language Week as part of the 2020 Pacific language Weeks programme.

Hon Aupito William Sio

Pacific Peoples

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