Inspiring greatness - NZ music and the world

  • Judith Tizard
Arts, Culture and Heritage

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

I am really delighted to be here tonight to help start Resonate 2004. The next three days promise to be amazing, exciting, informative, and a great social event if last year was anything to go by. Resonate provides an insight into the international music industry and allows us to put New Zealand into a world context.

As Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage I have been really interested in New Zealand music and where it can go. Five years ago I saw a huge number of people with astonishing talent. I saw a huge number of people with amazing ability to work incredibly hard. And I watched people who had reinvented often very similar wheels again and again, in an effort to take the music of 4 million people to the rest of the world.

I am really excited to see how with a little bit of support from NZ On Air, from the NZ Music Industry Commission, from the Government and from good friends from other countries and good friends across New Zealand, our music industry is contributing more and more both to the lives of New Zealanders and also more economically. It’s improving our international profile, our export earnings, and we’re having a good time.

I wish all those going to South by Southwest this year my deep and envious good wishes. I went last year and it was astonishing. What was most astonishing for me was how brilliantly New Zealand music stood up, being transplanted there and portrayed in comparison with international greats.

Particularly to our international guests, I bring you the greetings of Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is our Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. Taking this portfolio was a big step for her. It helped to elevate the status and role of our artists in New Zealand’s society, culture and economy to a level I think we have not seen before.

So thank you for coming and giving us a hand. New Zealand has very strong links with Britain. The links are going back to the Treaty signed between the British people here in New Zealand, and Maori. So New Zealand is a multicultural country on a bicultural base, and that is one of the things, but the first thing, that makes New Zealand distinctive.

We delight in the fact that we believe we have something special to give to the world. But we’re a country of 4 million people at the end of a globalising world. There’s a bit of a geographical barrier – you can call it ‘the tyranny of distance’ or you can call it the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

It’s a long way to come here, and it’s a long way to take our ideas, our passion, our belief that we have a huge creative spirit to share with the world.

It’s vital, across all art-forms, that people from different places get together and share their skills and experience. It’s also a really important economic step for us. Even with every one of our 4 million people passionately addicted to New Zealand music, we’re not going to be able to make a living for everyone here.

This is the heart of Resonate: We know we make great music here, and we know that the UK has one of the most sophisticated and exciting music industries in the world as well as being one of the most sophisticated, multicultural and exciting regions in the world.

I think often Britain looks at New Zealand and assumes that we’re just like you were perhaps 40 or 50 years ago. And I think there are many New Zealanders who think of Britain and think of old buildings and The Beatles. Well if you’re as old as I am, you think of The Beatles. It has been a revelation to us to see the astonishing British artists who have come to share their imagination, passion and energy with us.

We are extremely fortunate to be able to welcome such guests as Sarah Waddington – whom I met at SXSW last year - Jamelia, Colin Emmanuel, Pete Chambers, Liz Kessler, Martin Mills. Thank you all for taking the time out of your incredibly busy lives to come across the world and share your knowledge with us.

Resonate 2004 offers a stunning opportunity for some of our best emerging kiwi talent - Goodshirt, Niki Ahu and Flow On Show.

It’s not often that artists get to work with top-of-the-field international record and video producers on their first releases, or even on their second, and not often that such a window is available for people here to observe the production process at its best.

So thanks to the British Council for the Resonate vision To Kaye Glamuzina and to Paul Atkins and the British Council – thank you for wanting to do this and thank you for seeing it through.

May I also say how much I appreciate the broader work of the British Council in facilitating links between the UK and this country. From a New Zealand perspective, this provides a much-valued shortcut to a wealth of cultural opportunity on the other side of the world. It’s really exciting to see what’s happening in contemporary culture and art in Britain right now.

Also thank you to NZ Music Industry Commission and Mai FM for forming this partnership with the BC to bring the Resonate vision alive.

How the NZ Government is supporting NZ music

We have been keen to foster a healthy local musical scene that is open to new sounds and new ideas. Our commitment to music began at the start of our first term in 1999, when we gave a financial boost to some of New Zealand’s leading cultural institutions, including NZ On Air, Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

And we funded the setting up of the New Zealand Music Industry Commission, and I believe that they are going from strength to strength.

I really am proud of the work the Commission’s done so far, which includes assisting local bands and record labels to grab export opportunities, developing curriculum material and mentoring programmes for schools, looking at the issue of noise control and live music, and providing a free legal advice service for the industry. We’re also looking at intellectual property issues.

And this January the Commission supported another successful delegation at the Midem trade fair. Many new deals with international companies were negotiated, reflecting a high level of interest in what New Zealand has to offer.

So thank you for all of you who are working in partnership on many significant ventures, including Resonate.

Snapshot of the NZ music industry now

Our music industry is now booming. It is boasting record sales and record airplay: New Zealand music made up 19.43 percent of content on commercial radio in the December quarter, a tenfold increase on 1996 when it scored less than two percent.

A recent survey of New Zealanders’ cultural activities by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Statistics New Zealand showed that an estimated one million people had attended live performances of popular music in the 12 months preceding the survey .

The work of NZ On Air in funding local music, and the Radio Broadcasters Association with their voluntary Code of Practice for New Zealand Music Content on radio, have played a big role in helping local music gain its current profile and popularity.

With the explosion in domestic success, conquering the world is the next step.

Last year, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise formed the Music Industry Export Development Group, whose report we are expecting within the next two months.

The report will contain recommendations on how industry and government can form a strategic alliance to continue to work together to realise the export potential of New Zealand music.

There is no question, we have the talent here. We have such a range, and New Zealanders respond to everything that comes in from overseas and everything we have inherited from our wonderful energetic ancestors. So, where do we go from here? We’ve got to advance in the competitive international marketplace. We’ve got to match this talent with industry ‘savvy’ and with the ability to produce music to standards that will impress the most sophisticated international audiences.

This is where opportunities like the Resonate forums are invaluable.

Resonate lets us invite the ‘best of British’ onto our own turf – to stimulate us, and we hope to stimulate you, to upskill us with the latest developments, and to help us forge those networks and connections vital to achieving sustainable success in exporting our music to the world.

So once again, congratulations to the British Council and also to the New Zealand Music Industry Commission, Mai FM 88.6, NZ On Air and Flying Fish, all of which have generously contributed to making the ‘Resonate’ vision a reality.

Have a wonderful, stimulating, exciting, exhausting three days. I look forward to seeing and hearing the outcomes of the many discussions and collaborations.