Speech to NZ Lotteries $3 billion milestone event

  • Nathan Guy
Internal Affairs

Welcome to an event where I promise I will only mention the Rugby World Cup a few times.

We are here today to celebrate another very important national game – and that is Lotto.

Many of you might remember watching that first Lotto draw on 1 August 1987. I certainly do. I brought a ticket and I was pretty excited when I thought I’d won the jackpot.

Instead it turned out I’d won division 5 and got $26, which wasn’t a bad sum of money back in those days.

Of course that first Lotto draw was just a few months after the All Blacks last won the Rugby World Cup, so hopefully tonight’s celebration is a good omen. 

Rugby World Cup

Funnily enough, the Rugby World Cup has given us a good example of what an impact lottery funding can have. 

Last year we allocated $9.5 million from the profits of New Zealand Lotteries to help fund the REAL New Zealand Festival. This is a fantastic idea that was originated by Martin Snedden, and involves a nation-wide series of community and cultural events to coincide with the Rugby World Cup.  

Just about every corner of New Zealand is involved in some way, and you can’t walk very far around most towns and cities without seeing the exhibitions, performances and displays.

Over 170 events received lottery funding. These include:


  • The giant rugby ball on Auckland’s waterfront
  • performers and stalls around Eden Park
  • music and film displays
  • concerts and plays
  • a range of festivals including ‘A Taste of Southland’ and the Whitianga Scallop festival.

I think these events have really helped ignite the World Cup at a grassroots level, and make it an event for all New Zealanders.

Things have certainly changed from 1987 when the World Cup was a much smaller event by comparison.

Role of NZ Lotteries

NZ Lotteries was established by the Government in that year to raise money for the community and give New Zealanders the chance to gamble safely and responsibly.

As Judy said, NZ Lotteries has the job of raising the funds, which are then transferred to the Lottery Grants Board for distribution to various committees and statutory bodies.

Lottery grants provide vital backing for a range of social, community, arts, heritage, sports, recreation, and health research activities, all of which have a positive impact on our communities.

A large amount of funding also goes to the three statutory bodies.

This money helps the Film Commission support films that are made here in New Zealand by New Zealanders – including recent successes such as Billy T: Te Movie and My Wedding and Other Secrets.

Creative New Zealand helps thousands of artists, arts events, art works, literature and performances every year. One of those artists, a talented musician, Daniel Hayes, kindly performed for us on the piano tonight.

Sport and Recreation New Zealand use their allocation to help more New Zealanders take part, support and win in sport and physical recreation.

In total, last year more than 3,000 community groups and individuals received funding to help us achieve the vision of building strong, sustainable communities in New Zealand.

Helping Christchurch

In addition, $8.2 million was raised for the Christchurch earthquake appeal through a special purpose Lotto draw in March this year, and a further $6 million was also allocated to the appeal fund from profits distributed by the Lottery Grants Board.

This money will be hugely important as the Christchurch community begins rebuilding.

The biggest-ever profit transfer was a staggering $189.3 million in 2008/09, thanks to some major jackpot luck that year.

Since that very first Lotto draw in 1987, a staggering $3 billion has been raised for the community. This is a major achievement and one that deserves celebrating tonight.

At the end of the day, it is all about the community.  That is why lotteries were introduced in New Zealand and it is the reason the Lotteries Commission exists.

I would like to thank the Lottery Grants Board and their team of committees, who have worked hard over the past twenty four years to distribute lottery funds to an incredible range of projects that have a real impact in the community.

I’d also like to thank all New Zealanders who have had the fun of playing a lotteries game in the last twenty four years and who make a donation every time they purchase a ticket. 

Lastly I would like to thank the staff and Board of NZ Lotteries on achieving the $3 billion funds milestone.

Now can I ask Todd McLeay, chief executive of NZ Lotteries, to conclude the formalities with a few words.