10 Dec 2023

Fast Favourites: Paul Goldsmith, Aotearoa's new Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage 

From Culture 101, 12:10 pm on 10 December 2023

Funding for the creative sector is “going to be tight" in the year ahead, says Aotearoa's new minister for arts, culture and heritage, Paul Goldsmith.

“As a minister coming into it, obviously I'm taking stock of where we're at, we're obviously arriving at a time when there's not large amounts of money sloshing around, or free money, or extra money to come - so it's going to be tight.

“We're going to have to be creative about how we get good outcomes from the money that we've got, and ensuring that we're spending it wisely,” he told Culture 101's Mark Amery.

National MP Paul Goldsmith speaking to media at parliament

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Before entering politics Goldsmith worked as a historian for the Waitangi Tribunal for a year. In that job, he met and later became a press secretary to then National Party minister John Banks, followed by other ministers. 

When it comes to music, Goldsmith's tastes are broad. 

“I love music and I play the piano, mainly classical. I love jazz, as well. I enjoy modern music. I've got three teenage daughters so we get into all sorts of modern stuff as well.”

Although [NZ pop singer] Benee is a family favourite, Goldsmith says that his taste leans “traditional".

“If I chose myself I'd listen to Neil Finn or something like that. ‘Gentle Hum’ is my favourite of him … it’s just a great little piece. I love it.”

Goldsmith enjoys the visual arts, too, particularly sculpture, fiction, non-fiction and of course historical writing.

 “There's relatively few areas that I don't feel quite passionate about.”

While former prime minister Chris Hipkins was a fan of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code, Goldsmith prefers home-grown talent such as Charlotte Grimshaw.

“I don't think she's a National voter is my impression. She's a local, I see her quite often and we engage in a good bit of banter.

“I like her novels so I should shout out to that. But I [also] enjoyed all the old classics.”

During Covid, Goldsmith binged the novels of Hilary Mantel.

“I worked my way through the three volumes of Hilary Mantel [Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies, The Mirror and the Light] just sensational and I'd be sitting there on the couch with all the lights turned off and imagining myself sitting in these dark rooms with the light flickering, working my way through those, and so that's been probably the most enjoyable recent novels I've read.”

Although artists traditionally align themselves more to the left politically, he doesn’t believe that audiences are necessarily the same.

“I'm not precious about all these things. You get these poets getting stuck into us all the time. But, you know, let rip.”

Goldsmith says his life has been enhanced by his great friendship with Allan Gibbs, the New Zealand-born entrepreneur who owns Gibbs Farm sculpture park just outside of Auckland.

"I've written books for him and on his family and history and then a biography. And over 20-25 years, I've been going up to the farm, the sculpture park, nd seeing that evolve and engaging with international artists,

“But also, the great New Zealand sculptors, Chris Booth and those guys, it certainly has expanded my interest in [sculpture].”

While the wealthy are an important part of the arts patronage picture, Goldsmith oversees the public purse. So what are his first priorities?

“I want to ensure that all the different elements of the arts continue to be supported. And then I do tend to look at the portfolio also very much from the economic lens, I see it as an economic portfolio as well, in the sense that this is no different to agriculture or something like that.

“The creative sector, in the broader sense, are export earners. Our young musicians, our artists, our films, in all these things we have huge potential.”

Paul Goldsmith’s choice of track to play on Fast Favourites was Super Groove's ‘Can’t get Enough’.