Government refuses further funding for Te Matatini

The Matatini festival is the biggest event on the Māori calendar attracting thousands of people. So what does it take to organise it, how much does it cost and who foots the bill?

For most of the day, this was the scene at the main gate of Te Matatini. With an estimated 10,000 people alone attending today. Add 1500 staff to that and it's one costly event. 

Te Matatini CEO Darrin Apanui says the event is baseline funded every year with an amount 1.2 million dollars and through that organisers have to fund operations and all projects in the region.

So by the end of those costs, Mr Apanui says there's $200,000 to kick-start this competition and considering this Matatini will cost around $5mil, sourcing sponsors is a vital life source for the event.

As a result of costs a plea has gone out to the Government with organisiers highlighting the event as an important form of art that deserves more attention and financial support.

However Prime Minister John Key wasn’t exactly warming to the call,

“there's no question really this plays a really important role in cultural renaissance but I think it always gets to the point where everything is driven off a few more dollars.”

In comparison to other national performing arts, just over $4 million is given to the New Zealand Ballet, while just over $13 million is given to the Symphony Orchestra.

Mr Apanui says, “this makes it a big challenge for us and I sometimes wonder how we get to those particular figures.”

However while at the event the Prime Minister refused to budge claiming the Government didn’t have enough funding to provide more support to Te Matatini and explained ballet was a hugely expensive art form.”

Frustrations with the Government were evident in performances on stage which provided an ample platform to vent distress. Whether the Prime Minister chooses to take notice of the underlying messages in performances is yet to be seen.