Peters says NZ should leverage cultural success

Winston Peters
Winston Peters
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 links.

"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 international stage."

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 independence."

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."


Young people represent NZ culture

No doubt Winston and cohort don't know that 'Lorde' is 'the World's most influential Teenager', naff as it sounds, and Eleanor Catton won the Booker. Then there's golfing star Lydia Ko. These are the New Zealanders with worldwide recognition in Musical arts, literature and sport. Sort it, geezer!

we are not Hollywood

NZ is not Hollywood. Imitating the cultural baggage of the USA is playing mini me. ls that the best NZ can do to promote its uniqueness? l thought Winston was a nationalist.

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