Academics question why Te Matatini isn't receiving equitable funding in performing arts sector

Academics are questioning why Te Matatini isn't receiving equitable funding to those also in the performing arts sector.

This follows a newly released report called The Value of Kapa Haka, highlighting the value of Māori performing arts. The report found there were benefits to the provincial and urban economies and better education and health outcomes for participants.

Victoria University academic Dr Awanui Te Huia said kapa haka provides a space "to be ourselves as Māori".

"It helps us to connect with our pūrakau, our mātauranga Māori, te reo Māori. So all these things are encapsulated when individuals participate in kapa haka."

Budget 2022 provided Te Matatini with a 50 percent funding increase, yet Dr Te Huia can't understand that even after that increase, Te Matatini still only gets $2.9 million. 

"The quantification of $2.9 million does not accurately reflect the contributions that Te Matatini is making internally as well as on a global platform," Dr Te Huia said.

The New Zealand Royal Ballet received $8.1 million in Budget 2022, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra receiving $19.7 million.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi, a two-time champion, wants much more for Te Matatini.

"You will find there are huge inequities for Te Matatini and it's time for this Government to do what's right."

Waititi said more than $100 million of funding is needed.

Te Matatini recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, with the bi-annual event attracting more than 40,000 spectators and contributing $15 million to the regional economy. Up to 2000 performers attended the four-day kapa haka event and performers put in an estimated $24 million worth of unpaid hours to train and reach Te Matatini standards.

With Sport New Zealand's recent funding of $276,000 to the School of Māori Weaponry - Te Whare Tū Taua, there is some hope that Te Matatini is next in line.

Sport NZ Spokesperson Moana-Lee Raihania said there are two other national Māori organisations that they are currently in discussions with.

"It's a bit premature for me to disclose who those organisations are, but we are really confident that we are going to get to a similar place with those two organisations in the very near future."

Kapa haka is the window to Te Ao Māori - the Māori Worldview. A world view used as part of our national identity and exploited everywhere from our national carrier, to tourism, to our national sports teams.

The art form is still yet to be fully recognised in this country despite contributing so strongly to its social fabric and worldwide image.

Auckland University of Technology's economist Richard Meade was also part of the report. He was the first academic to try to apply a non-market value model and find what economists call a consumer surplus.

In simple terms, it's trying to understand the value of an event like Te Matatini by exploring the contribution for things like cost, time spent, travel, and willingness to pay above and beyond for a ticket to the event.

"Te Matatini, it's a very unusual sort of festival, it's every two years. It's a cultural festival as much as anything else so it's not a sports event per say. It's not the same as seeing Symphony of Orchestra or the ballet, it has its only distinctive features," Meade said.

He said all cultural organisers should be interested in wanting to have a better estimate of what this consumer surplus is for their attendees at their events. 

"What I have shown with my research, it's actually possible to implement this kind of methodology to come up with an estimate of that, and if we had that estimate for all the different kinds of cultural events that were available we would have a better sense of their relative consumer surplus, and will have a better sense therefore on how they would be better funded on a more equitable basis," Meade said.

Academics question why Te Matatini isn't receiving equitable funding in performing arts sector