I am writing my first blog post from London, where I am attending the Quintet Meeting of Attorneys-General at Lancaster House. This comprises the Attorneys-General of England and Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Discussions so far have covered a range of matters and have been very interesting and worthwhile. More on that later.
In this post I want to take a brief look at the involvement of the National Party in the arts in New Zealand. I think National’s arts pedigree is excellent. Sid Holland’s government formed the Historic Places Trust and Keith Holyoake’s government established the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. Robert Muldoon appointed the first Minister for the Arts in 1975, Alan Highet, who established the Film Commission in 1978. In Jim Bolger’s time, Doug Graham as Minister for the Arts continued the commitment to Te Papa which had been begun by the previous Government and reformed the Arts Council into Creative New Zealand.
In 2009, the arts are stronger than ever in New Zealand. I think we in the National Party have a lot of which we can be proud. If you look around at the NZSO or APO concerts, or if you go to theatres or art exhibitions, there you will see the National Party at play. Members of the National Party serve on so many boards of arts and other cultural organisations. This is a testament to the philanthropic and voluntary strains that run through our membership. It’s one of our greatest strengths.