New Zealand culture is portrayed through visual arts, crafts and design; music, dance and performing arts; and literature and film. In these many forms it has been published, performed, exhibited and sold overseas since the late 18th century.
Expatriates and ambassadors
New Zealand culture has often become known overseas through the efforts of individuals. Many talented expatriate New Zealanders such as writer Katherine Mansfield, artist Len Lye and opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa have made their mark in other countries. Other kapa haka performers, artists, musicians, singers, writers, curators, performers and film makers have become known overseas while continuing to live and work primarily in New Zealand.
Since the 19th century the government has played a significant role in promoting New Zealand culture overseas. International exhibitions have been one of the places where global audiences have been able to experience traditional and contemporary art, Māori performing arts and New Zealand music of various kinds.
Various government agencies have used a number of other methods, including gifts, delegations, displays and participation in competitions, to promote New Zealand culture overseas. Their motivations have included helping to build diplomatic relations and trade with other countries and encouraging tourism and migration to New Zealand.
Among the major projects sponsored by the Cultural Diplomacy International Programme were a performance by kapa haka champions Te Waka Huia at the America’s Cup and a Royal New Zealand Ballet tour of China in 2013. Smaller projects also received support, including a 2010 visit by Māori pop musicians Moana and the Tribe to Taiwan, and a visit by jazz saxophonist Nathan Haines and his band to Jakarta the same year.
Cultural Diplomacy International Programme
In the 2000s Manatū Taonga - the Ministry for Culture and Heritage administered a Cultural Diplomacy International Programme supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tourism New Zealand, Te Puni Kōkiri and Education New Zealand. Its purpose was to build a New Zealand cultural presence in other countries to enhance New Zealand’s economic and diplomatic interests. One of the goals was to ensure a cultural dimension at big events such as international sports tournaments.
Fulbright New Zealand is best known for the scholarships it provides for New Zealand scholars to study in the United States (and for American scholars to study in New Zealand), but it also funds a three-month Pacific Writers’ Residency at the University of Hawaii, a 10-week visual artists’ residency at the Headlands Centre in California and travel awards to assist artists (as well as scholars and professionals) to study or present their work in America.
Creative New Zealand International Programme
At the same time, arts funding body Creative New Zealand ran an international programme to give artists opportunities to engage with other cultures and art forms overseas. The programme provided funding for art, writing and dance cultural exchanges, support for overseas tours and engagements, grants to publishers wanting to translate New Zealand books into other languages, and help in organising New Zealand participation in major international arts events such as the Edinburgh Festivals, the Venice Biennale and the annual Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM).