'Disappointing' kapa haka funding fails to reflect cultural importance - Te Matatini

6:12 pm on 20 May 2022

Te Matatini are welcoming a well overdue funding increase following this weeks Budget announcements, but say it falls short of providing equitable funding for kapa haka to flourish in Aotearoa.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Government announced $1.2 billion for Māori in this year's budget. From this, $18 million has been made available for the celebration of te ao Māori and preservation of taonga, according to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

The national body for kapa haka, Te Matatini, will receive $4m across four years for both the festival, and the development of a regional kapa haka model.

In a comparison graph released by Te Matatini, it receives approximately $5.2m less than the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and $16.7m less than New Zealand Symphony Orchestra annually.

Te Matatini chair Selwyn Parata says the festival has the second-largest active participation, and third-largest audience in the Arts, gathering over 30,000 in person spectators and over 900,000 online viewers.

Parata says kapa haka is a unique and integral part of our identity in Aotearoa and on the world stage, describing the allocation of funds as disappointing and not sufficient to allow it to expand on the positive contribution that kapa haka brings to Aotearoa.

Previously, the Government funding for kapa haka was $940,000 in 1998, which was increased in the early 2000's to $1.248 million.

Since 2016, this figure has stood at $1.948 million - the baseline boost in funding from this years budget brings that figure up to $2.948 million per year.

Te Matatini chief executive Carl Ross said that according to a study conducted by the University of Auckland, Te Wānanga o Raukawa, and Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University, kapa haka provides a strong fundation for Māori development in "all aspects of life".

"Te Matatini provided to Government an evidence-based report highlighting the fiscal contributions kapa haka makes to the national economy; positive attributes towards the Māori health index, the increased academic achievement levels of students who actively participate in kapa haka and the revitalisation of te reo Māori," he said.

Ross said the Government must address the inequities that Māori continue to face in response to the 2022 Budget.

"New Zealanders are recognised for kapa haka internationally and yet, here at home, we continue to be underfunded," Ross added.

Te Pāti Māori said there was room for further investment with the current funding falling short of its policy platform which would boost this to $19m.

Associate Minister of Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan said the funding boost would ultimately encourage more people to get involved in kapa haka, enhancing social, cultural, and te reo expertise throughout Aotearoa.

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