Opening of the new Motueka studio of Fresh FMArts, Culture and Heritage
· John Hurley - Mayor of Tasman District
· Damien O'Connor - local MP
· Dawn Taylor - Fresh FM Station Manager
· Kerry Marshall - Chair of the Fresh FM Trust (and other trust members here today)
· And all the programme makers, volunteers and those people and businesses in the community who sponsor the programmes on Fresh FM.
Happy seventh birthday, and thank you for inviting me here today.
As Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, I'm pleased to be here to celebrate the community spirit, enthusiasm and drive behind the launch of your new studio.
It's lovely to be here in Motueka. For many New Zealanders, this is a golden dream-land, where we can bring up our families safe and well and enjoy all the wonderful arts, culture and produce of the region.
The media has an extremely important role to play in nurturing the identity of a region.
Radio, especially, has a huge role to play. It is immediate, intimate, accessible and free … and the voices are your own.
As we know, a lot of the electronic media and newspapers have to sell advertising to survive - and they often use conflict to do it. So we regularly hear and read only depressing stories about our community.
But local and community radio can give us the truth about where we live, and air the vast range of opinions that hold to our truths. Media, done well, is about both confrontation and common ground.
Our national identity is made up of many geographical identities. So regional, community and access stations can represent their own communities better than anyone.
Access Radio opens doors for all local people to participate in the information-exchange and nurturing of identity that are the central ideas behind access radio.
And Fresh FM has an important and good role to play in covering the interests and concerns of the whole area - including Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay.
I know that you have a range of arts-related programmes, specialist music shows, book and film reviews, and that you broadcast the NZ on Air-funded youth shows, Rampage and Te Puutake. As Associate Arts, Culture & Heritage Minister, I am delighted to see that. I know that the Minister for Arts is also supportive of the work that you do, and she sends her greetings today.
As you know, the Labour-Alliance Government is hugely supportive of the arts, for a number of reasons.
I want to talk a bit about what the Government is trying to do in our support for the arts, to make sure that we do it well.
We support the arts simply because we as a country are passionate New Zealanders who have something to say to the world.
When the Prime Minister and I sat down to think about what knits us together as a nation, we looked at two main areas where we could help to enhance the pride and lifestyle of New Zealanders. Arts, and Local Government.
We wanted to help weave together stronger strands in the community, and we believe that the arts sector and local government have huge roles to play.
There are intrinsic benefits and fundamental human satisfaction to be gained from exposure to and engagement with arts and culture. Culture directly enhances our quality of life.
On a local level, this region with its wine, produce and arts shows exactly how regional arts and cultures together with the support of local government can give us confidence in ourselves and make us feel good as a community. My challenge to you is to see them being celebrated more and more.
Our art and what we produce make a big contribution to our national identity. Art helps us define who we are as individuals and as part of the New Zealand community.
When we look at the recent actions in Seattle and Genoa, I believe what happened there reflects strongly how we feel about our place in the world as global boundaries become less obvious. National identity is personal identity, and we must strengthen our national identity to keep our personal identity strong.
There are also huge economic benefits from cultural activities, and from being able to live and work in a vibrant and happy community with a strong sense of geographic identity.
We believe that we should all be able to have jobs where we enjoy ourselves as well as do good work. That is why this Government is putting time and effort into arts and culture.
For all of these reasons, it is equally essential that local communities get behind their own arts and cultural events, community radio stations and volunteer activities.
As a Government, we like to emphasise the need for strategic partnerships in the arts.
Access radio is an excellent example of how business and the community can work together, because it is through sponsorship from local businesses that programmes can be broadcast on Fresh FM.
Because local businesses are run by people who live in the community, their sponsorship is a sign of their understanding of the community's needs and their support for community-focused information and entertainment.
What we hear on Fresh FM, and the new studio we are opening today, shows how much you all value your community
Finally, this is the International Year of the Volunteer, and Fresh FM is run on the strength of its volunteers. I want to pay tribute to those who work in a variety of ways, quietly and often with little or no reward, to make a difference in their communities.
This certainly applies to the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers at Fresh FM. You do outstanding jobs that create valuable assets for your communities and your regions.
A recent World Bank study suggested that the number of choirs in a community reflects the health of that community. Here at Fresh FM you have a choir of voices, if you like, which represents the health of Motueka and the region.
So Happy Birthday, and congratulations to all those who have made this new Fresh FM studio possible. You must feel very proud that you have built a wonderful asset not just for the community but for the whole region.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Kia ora.