Kiwis Are Cultured Survey Shows

  • Simon Upton
Cultural Affairs

Most New Zealanders think that cultural activities help enrich people's lives, bring people together and give us a sense of identity. And eighty-four percent of us - whether city or rural - say we personally enjoy culture and cultural activities.

Those are findings from a second national survey on culture, commissioned in July by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and released today (Wednesday 22 Oct) by Cultural Affairs Minister, Hon Simon Upton.

People throughout New Zealand were surveyed on their attitudes towards culture, their personal level of interest and their views on media coverage of cultural affairs. Interest in cultural activities was spread widely over all occupations, income groups, ages and districts.

The majority of those surveyed (91%) said that cultural activities help to enrich the quality of people's lives, and 87% said New Zealand's cultural activities give us a sense of identity. A huge 96% agreed that the success of New Zealand painters, singers, writers, film-makers and actors
gives New Zealanders a sense of pride. Ninety-six percent also said that New Zealand's historic places and buildings should be protected and children should have a lot of involvement with art, music and literature at school.

In a speech at a Beehive function, which featured entertainment from the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Mr Upton said that while New Zealanders are pretty definite about their own interest in culture, they're not so sure about others.

"More than half the people in this survey believe that culture is enjoyed by 'only a minority' of New Zealanders - but actually 84% say they are personally interested. Perhaps people need to be a bit more open about the place of culture in their lives."

Mr Upton said that the survey also shattered the myth that only an elite urban population is interested in culture.

"Where people come from, their age, occupation, income and race were all broadly measured - and the figures show that interest and support for culture is spread right across all areas and age groups. Whether you live in Auckland, Christchurch or rural New Zealand doesn't make a
difference, and neither do occupation nor income."

Most people surveyed (88%) thought that different nationalities and ethnic groups enrich our culture, and 83% said that Maori culture and cultural activities are an important part of our national identity.

The survey shows that people want Government and business involvement in culture to continue. Around three quarters thought that cultural activities should receive some Government funding and that there should be more sponsorship by private companies, while 82% said that
supporting and encouraging cultural activities is an important role of Government.

The Minister says that the cultural sector appreciates the support it gets from business.

"But there's room for more corporate support. These figures are a good argument for the numbers of New Zealanders who can be reached through cultural sponsorships.

"Overall, the survey is encouraging for those who work in the sector, and those who enjoy and support culture with time and money. The positive findings offer us all some ammunition in the promotion of profile and quality in culture."

The survey was a follow-up to a benchmark survey taken by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1994, and showed that New Zealanders' interest in culture has remained fairly constant. The national phone survey was carried out in July amongst 937 randomly-selected adults by
ACNielsen-McNair. The maximum margin of error is 3.2%.