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New Zealand Culture

Us Kiwis are an eclectic bunch. We’re a small island nation tucked away in the South Pacific, full of down-to-earth people with a wry sense of humour and an egalitarian spirit. Being ‘Kiwi’ is special and inclusive – it’s part of our blossoming multicultural identity. But we need a public media system to support it.   

Culture needs a custodian

The media is deeply intertwined with our culture. Consider how often you interact with it in your day-to-day life. Whether it’s watching TV, tuning into the radio, or scrolling your news feed, the media is everywhere in our lives. Through it, we laugh at ourselves, learn of the latest fads, and find out about community events and issues.

Public media is ideally suited to this custodianship role, because it’s inclusive. Consider the various facets of the ‘Kiwi’ identity. It goes without saying we’re obsessed with rugby, but not at the expense of other sports. We love a range of grub – from pāua fritters to mince on toast. And some of us are outdoorsy types, while others love a good book, or an arts festival. The point is, our culture is multifaceted and requires a diverse media system to prop all parts up.  

Left to commercial media, our culture is exposed to the cold logic of the market. It’s like entrusting a national park to a mining company – there might be nice words about preserving the environment, but ultimately the profit motive undoes any real investment in protecting our heritage. In this sense, commercial media is like a pop radio show; it will broadcast all the hits, but be reticent to provide audiences a wide range of content, or to take creative risks with what it shows or invests in.  

The reality is not all ‘culture’ has obvious commercial appeal – be it te reo Māori, history, or the fine arts, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Similarly, international shows can be entertaining, but so too can programs closer to home, which also have the immeasurable benefit of reflecting our values back to us. Ever wonder why Kiwis make awkward reality TV personalities? Our laid-back demeanours just don’t measure up to the narcissism we’ve come to expect through international versions of the Bachelor or Survivor. Our culture is quite clearly different, and too precious to reduce to ratings or clicks.     

In New Zealand, we’ve recognised the need to preserve our environment, and have invested considerable government resources to do so. BPM believes New Zealand culture is equally important and worth conserving. Like our rivers or forests, it requires custodianship to protect it from exploitation, so we don’t forget who we are. For these reasons, BPM supports a public media system to promote all facets of our culture.

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