Winston Peters says New Zealand needs to use the success
of Kiwis like Lorde and Sir Peter Jackson as part of its
foreign policy to promote the country's image abroad.
Speaking at a conference on cultural diplomacy in Berlin,
Germany, yesterday, the New Zealand First leader said today's
digital environment meant the biggest contribution to
cultural diplomacy would be made outside "official" channels.
"The recent impact of the Gangnam Style - something like
riding a horse without the horse - raced across the world
from South Korea," he said, referring to the internet
sensation turned international hit by musician Psy.
"Hundreds of millions sharing a harmless craze on Youtube and
laughing together may be as helpful for world peace as some
meetings at the United Nations."
Mr Peters said New Zealand should be smarter about leveraging
off what it was already successfully doing in the world.
"We can seek out countrymen already successful in their
fields including the arts and embrace them as 'cultural
ambassadors' using social media, traditional media and other
assets including our embassies in support of broader national
objectives such as trade connections, tourism, educational
"Opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, film maker Sir Peter
Jackson and new singing sensation Lorde and the most
successful sporting team in the world, the New Zealand All
Blacks, would have far greater impact than any government
minister or ambassador in promoting New Zealand on the
He said New Zealand should continue capitalising on events
like the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the phenomenal success of
the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
"We also need to look for opportunities to exploit what other
players are doing such as think-tanks, universities and the
private sector, while being keenly aware of their own
But he said the taxpayer could not be expected to foot the
bill every time an artist, writer or musician went overseas.
"Some say the internet is the answer to those who argue for a
taxpayer-funded global cultural exchange programmes.
"Well if haphazard, directionless, unfocused outcomes are
being sought then they would be right. However, cultural
diplomacy is far too important to be left to accident."