Cultural Attitudes Cause Confusion

  • Simon Upton
Cultural Affairs

Most New Zealanders think they're pretty 'cultured' themselves - but they're not so sure about others.

A new survey on New Zealanders' attitudes towards culture shows a big difference between what people say about themselves and what they believe about other people.

Eight-four percent of people questioned in the survey said they personally were interested in culture and cultural activities. But over half of those
questioned also believed that cultural activities are enjoyed by "only a minority" of New Zealanders.

The July survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and released today (Wednesday 22 Oct) by Cultural Affairs Minister, Hon Simon Upton, was a repeat of one taken in 1994.

Two questions which had been re-worded since 1994 further revealed this split in attitudes.

Three years ago people were asked whether sporting activities were more important to "most New Zealanders" than cultural activities. Eighty-seven percent said they were. Only 12% thought other people might consider culture important. But in 1997 when the question was
'personalised' to "sporting activities are more important than cultural activities" only 44% agreed.

Whether or not New Zealand has a cultural identity was another tricky area.

In 1994, 72% of people questioned said that "most New Zealanders" did not have a strong sense of New Zealand's cultural identity. But this year, when people were asked if they, personally had a strong sense of cultural identity, 62% said they did.

However, 95% had no trouble agreeing that New Zealanders should be able to experience the best of international art and culture here in New Zealand; that they're proud of the success of actors, artists, writers, singers and film-makers; that historic buildings and places should be
protected and children should have lots of involvement with art, music and literature at school.

There was also strong consensus on the role of Government. Eighty-two percent of people surveyed said that supporting and encouraging cultural activities is an important role of Government while 77% said cultural activities should receive some funding from Government. Three quarters also believe there should be more sponsorship by private companies.

Attitudes were fairly consistent across all occupations, income groups and ages, and there was no significant difference between city and rural dwellers.

The national phone survey was carried out in July amongst 937 people by ACNielsen-McNair. It has a 3.2% maximum margin of error.