Statements of Service ​Provision

4 Cultural wellbeing
​Oranga ahurea

The Council funds events and festivals, supports attractions such as Te Papa, the Carter Observatory, the city’s galleries and museums and also supports community art and cultural activities.

The strength of Wellington’s creative culture depends on people; the output of artists, writers, musicians, and dancers and on the expressiveness of Wellington’s communities.

We fund these activities because they matter to the lives of individual Wellingtonians and to the community as a whole. They contribute to a diverse economy and build on Wellington’s reputation as New Zealand’s arts and culture capital. They also make the city a more vibrant place to live, help develop healthy and connected communities and improve residents’ quality of life.

Our cultural wellbeing objectives

Sense of place and identity

Diversity and openness


Exposure to creativity and innovation

Our cultural wellbeing activities contribute to us being:

People–centred: They shape Wellington’s sense of place and identity. They celebrate creativity, ideas and increase our understanding of culture and history. By enabling Wellington’s creative communities to thrive, they promote inclusive, tolerant and strong communities.

Connected: They provide ideas and places where people can connect, share and explore what is new and different. They connect the present with the past and future. Events and collaborations connect us with people, places and ideas here and abroad.

A dynamic central city: They enhance Wellington’s vibrancy as a diverse city where people want to live work and play.

Case study

The Johnsonville mural

In late 2014 we supported community groups, schools and local organisations in Johnsonville to commission a mural for the side of the Countdown supermarket, which had a history of tagging. The mural steering group commissioned Wellington artist Sheyne Tuffery who had grown up in the area and was interested in exploring and referencing the history of the suburb in the mural. He worked with students from 11 local schools and the youth organisation, Challenge 2000, on this project.

Sheyne took inspiration from the Johnsonville Railway line, with each of the 13 panels that make up the 100-metre long mural representing a different section of a train. This was a playful way to connect each panel along the length of the wall, and to reflect the importance of the railway to the suburb. The students took part in workshops led by Sheyne and developed themes and ideas that were then woven together in a series of panels.

The Council supports a wide range of murals in Wellington City. As well as reducing tagging and graffiti, bringing communities together and brightening our public spaces, these murals provide a chance for artists to reflect the diversity of the city and our people. We also provide a mural toolkit and advice for anyone interested in commissioning a mural.

Case study

WW100 commemoration

Our WW100 Programme recognises and commemorates the sacrifices of Wellingtons during The Great War - World War 1.

We started the commemorations in 2014 with the Lest We Forget wall stories and projected images. These wall stories displayed images of ten soldiers, including one Māori Pioneer Battalion soldier, a nurse and one conscientious objector. These were pasted up, along with their personal stories, in places around the city near to where they lived, worked and went to school.

Our project continued with an outdoor multimedia show in October 2014 commemorating the significant role played by the Capital and its residents. Footage of the 10 troop ships that left Wellington on 16 October 1914 carrying more than 8,000 New Zealand soldiers (the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force that fought in the First World War) was projected onto significant outdoor heritage sites around the city.

Over Anzac week in April 2015 we held an Anzac parade through the streets of Wellington to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings. Approximately 60,000 people turned out to watch military personnel, vintage war machinery, equipment, vehicles and a special fly-over of vintage World War I aircraft.

The following day around 40,000 people attended the Dawn Service at the newly opened National War Memorial Park, Pukeahu, at the top of Tory and Tasman streets. The day continued with the Citizens Wreath Laying Service at our newly renovated Cenotaph, an event attended by approximately 2,000 people.

Over the same week 852 individualised white crosses were placed on Salamanca Lawn in the Botanic Gardens to commemorate soldiers from the Wellington region killed in 1915.

Another highly regarded event was the WW1 Remembered, a light and sound show that ran for 8 nights at Pukeahu and attracted 50,000 people. It featured imagery from our shared military history projected onto the facades of the historic Dominion Museum and the Carillon.

The WW100 programme continues until 2019.


Arts and cultural activities
Ngā mahi toi me ngā ngohe ahure

Supporting arts activity adds vibrancy to the city as well as promoting inclusive and strong communities.


What we do

Our arts activities ensure Wellington builds on its reputation as New Zealand’s arts and culture capital, by continuing to be home to top-class museums, art galleries, orchestras and dance and theatre companies. A strong arts and culture sector contributes to a diverse economy, a creative identity and connected communities, which is why we live here.

Our activities include:

  • funding to Te Papa, Wellington Museum (formerly Museum of City and Sea), City Gallery, Capital E, the Cable Car Museum, Carter Observatory and Nairn Street Historic Cottage
  • supporting events and cultural festivals
  • provide fund grants to arts organisations
  • manage the Toi Pōneke Arts Centre and the city’s art collection
  • fund cultural grants
  • access to and support for community arts
  • fund arts partnerships
  • partnership with four other Councils in the region to provide support for regional arts, cultural and environmental organisations and activities.

What we achieved

We supported public art projects. This includes three Courtenay Place Park light box exhibitions and nine temporary public art projects, including Miniature Hikes by Kemi and Niko. We worked with the Wellington Sculpture Trust to realise the permanent artwork Walk the Line by Joe Sheehan and Parking Day. We also supported 69 projects throughout the year, with grants ranging from $1,500 to $12,000 within these four focus areas: the city as a hothouse for talent; Wellington as a region of confident identities; active and engaged people; and our creative future through technology. The Arts and Culture Fund provided support for projects and key partnerships through contract funding for key arts institutions in the city.

We supported regional projects through the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund. This year we contributed $609,200 towards the $950,200 distributed by the fund to the following organisations:

We support artists. We purchased nine artworks for the City Art Collection and in October, a new artist-in-residence programme in a waterfront studio was established in partnership with Massey University. South Australian artist Christian Thompson was the first recipient of this fellowship. Conservation treatment was carried out on 12 artworks. There were 12 City Art Collection works loaned for three external exhibitions, including to a regional gallery, and two loans for galleries in Wellington.

We also completed several significant mural projects, some of which were in partnership with schools or artist-led, including:

We catered for youth. More than 8,000 young people participated in the 26th Artsplash Children’s Arts Festival.

We supported the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange programme. The exchange is a partnership with the Asia NZ Foundation. This year musician and composer Hiroyuki Yamamoto came to Wellington, hosted by the NZ School of Music. Wellington based artist Jade Townsend was selected as this year’s Red Gate Gallery resident in Beijing, China.

Toi Pōneke Arts Centre celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Toi Pōneke has supported artists in Wellington by providing space for thousands of art practitioners, over 300 exhibiting artists, and has run more than 150 exhibitions. Given this milestone, during the year we completed a review of Toi Pōneke Arts Centre and agreed to continue its services and important arts development role. The Council agreed that we would do further work investigating options to refresh the Centre’s services and improve its effectiveness in meeting current sector needs.

We supported our museums. We supported the first phase of the Museum of Wellington City and Sea’s (now Wellington Museum) upgrade plan. This phase will open up the attic of the Bond Store building, increasing the Museum‘s exhibition space and improving the seismic resilience of this historic building. The Wellington Museums Trust’s institutions attracted almost 690,000 visitors, with City Gallery and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea visitation rates significantly above target.

Te Papa has had a record year, with over 1.5 million visitors through their doors, the third best year in their history. Acclaimed exhibitions have appealed to Wellingtonians of all ages, and brought record numbers of visitors to the capital. Exhibitions such as Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War, Air New Zealand: 75 Years, and Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family, have offered the intelligent, immersive and fun experiences that Te Papa is known for. Matariki continues to be a highlight of Wellington’s calendar, with a full programme of community events at Te Papa.

Our on-going support ensured the success of events. Key events held during the year included Capital Christmas, city activations for the ICC Cricket World Cup and the Summer City Programme. Capital Christmas was very successful, with a city-wide programme of entertainment creating a festive spirit leading up to Christmas. We ran the Santa Parade and a large-scale city dressing programme, which included installing Christmas trees in Midland Park and Courtenay Park, decorating the Railway Station front columns, and dressing the Cable Car in wrapping paper.

Other events included the biennial South East Asia Night Market, which trialled a two night event instead of one. It was a great success despite poor weather, with record crowds enjoying the food and cultural performances. There were also new collaborations within existing events, such as those with Massey Design School for Meridian Gardens Magic, Go Wellington and NZ Film Commission for Pasifika and the City Gallery for Matariki. Overall, it was an excellent year of events, with national artists of significance performing at Pasifika, Matariki, Waitangi Day and Meridian Gardens Magic. We also sponsored other community events, including NZCT Dragon boat Festival, the Newtown Festival and Culture Kicks.

Summer City was a great success. Summer City had over 80 events running throughout the city over the summer. One of this year’s highlights was Meridian Gardens Magic, which had record attendee numbers and not a single performance cancelled, assisted by the wonderful summer weather. Meridian Gardens Magic has been shortlisted for the NZAEP Best Established Community Event, to be announced in July. City activations for Cricket World Cup included the transformation of Civic Square into a ‘Village Green’. This included an artificial turf that created an opportunity for endless friendly games, a pavilion to host some of Wellington’s finest performers and roving music, cultural, and cricket-related acts. The fan trails were lively and well supported.

We commemorated the 100th anniversary of World War 1 with a range of activities over the year, including major commemorations for Anzac Week. Thousands of spectators watched the Street Parade on 24 April, which included 16 vintage World War 1 vehicles from Sir Peter Jackson's personal collection and an original American Field Service ambulance. The spectacular light and sound show, WW1 Remembered: A Light and Sound Show, featured imagery from our military history projected onto the facades of the former Dominion Museum and the Carillon.

How we performed

The numbers of people attending festivals and events was high and their contribution to the city’s economy is increasing. This year, Te Papa recorded extremely high visitor numbers, we continued to support cultural activities and residents remained satisfied with the services we provide.

We measure the effectiveness of our arts and culture support activities

Satisfaction with Wellington City Council supported arts and cultural festivals

User satisfaction (%) with Toi Pōneke facilities and services 

Result: 91% of users were satisfied with Toi Pōneke facilities and services (Target: 90%. 2013/14: 83%; 2012/13: 82%; 2011/12: 86%).

Source: Toi Pōneke Customer Satisfaction Survey7

Cultural grants - % of applicants who are satisfied with support and advice received from the Council

Result: 91% of applicants were satisfied with the support and advice received from the Council (Target: 95%. 2013/14: 82%; 2012/13: 73%).

Source: WCC Community Networks

The proportion of grant funds successfully allocated (through milestones being met)

Result: 96% (Target: 95%. 2013/14: 100%; 2012/13: 97%).

Source: WCC Community Networks

Proportion of outcomes delivered (previous projects – weighted by $ value) 

Result: 95% (Target: 90%. 2013/14: 100%; 2012/13: 100%).

Source: WCC Community Networks

We understand the reach of our arts and culture support activities

Te Papa visitors (by overseas visitors [OV] and NZ visitors from outside the region [NZOR])

Total visitors target: 1.35 million people
New Zealand visitors target: 495,000 people
Outside the region target: 352,000 people8

This year visitor numbers at Te Papa have been extremely high, exceeding targets across all measures. This performance improvement primarily results from several notable exhibitions held throughout the year. Wellington also hosted a number of popular international events this year, such as the Cricket World Cup and the influx of visitors associated with these may have contributed to lifting performance.

Total visits to museums and galleries (including Carter Observatory.

Result: 689,414 (Target: 583,123. 2013/14: 601,743; 2012/13: 644,411).

This year due to several highly successful events and programmes, our performance exceeded target.

Source: Wellington Museums Trust

Arts and cultural festivals estimated attendance

Venues subsidy – total number of performers and attendees at supported events

Result: 12,564 performers and 54,371 attendees (Target: increase from 2013/14. 2013/14: 13,878 performers and 83,675 attendees; 2012/13: 16,270 performers and 84,342 attendees).

The number of participants and audiences taking part and attending events supported through venue subsidies vary in scale and these can be significantly different year-to-year, as they are dependent on the nature and scale of the applications we receive. We remain committed to using our venues subsidies as a mechanism to remove barriers and improve access to events.

Source: WCC City Events

Cultural grants - % first time applicants who were successful 

Result: 43% (Target: 50%. 2013/14: 63%; 2012/13: 44%).

This year 21 first time applicants were allocated grant funding, of a total cohort of 48 new applicants. Our performance in this measure is influenced by a number of factors that are not within Council control, such as the pressure on available funding and the quality of applications we receive. Several of our grants funding schemes are aimed at encouraging new and emerging practitioners.

Source: WCC Community Networks

Number of artists involved in supported art projects delivered through the Public Art Fund 

Result: 45 artists (No target. 2013/14: 45 artists; 2012/13: 39 artists).

Source: WCC City Arts

What it cost

4.1.1 City Galleries and Museums1
Expenditure 8,379 8,412 33 8,299
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 8,379 8,412 33 8,299
4.1.2 Visitor Attractions (Te Papa/Carter Observatory)
Expenditure 3,033 2,981 (52) 3,021
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 3,033 2,981 (52) 3,021
4.1.3 Arts and Cultural Festivals
Expenditure 3,569 2,597 (972) 2,131
Revenue (441) (410) 31 (263)
Net Expenditure 3,128 2,187 (941) 1,868
4.1.4 Cultural Grants
Expenditure 1,037 1,053 16 1,019
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 1,037 1,053 16 1,019
4.1.5 Access and Support for Community Arts
Expenditure 569 613 44 525
Revenue (63) (68) (5) (92)
Net Expenditure 506 545 39 433
4.1.6 Arts Partnerships
Expenditure 1,834 1,938 104 1,655
Revenue (482) (535) (53) (509)
Net Expenditure 1,352 1,403 51 1,146
4.1.7 Regional Amenities Fund
Expenditure 656 609 (47) 661
Revenue (34) - 34 (69)
Net Expenditure 622 609 (13) 592
  1. Over budget due to additional spend on Community Events approved by the Council on 30th of September as part of the Funding for Nominated Events paper.

4.1.1 City Galleries and Museums1
Expenditure 1,807 - (1,807) -
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward n/a - - n/a
4.1.2 Visitor Attractions (Te Papa/Carter Observatory)2
Expenditure 554 - (554) -
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward n/a 48   n/a
4.1.5 Access and Support for Community Arts3
Expenditure 10 26 16 -
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward n/a - - n/a
  1. Additional capital cost of the Wellington Museum upgrade project was funded by the Wellington Museums Trust.
  2. Over budget due to a capital programme agreed by the Council in September 2014 to allow for the Cable Car and Carter Digital Planetarium.
  3. Under budget due to the rescheduling of a sculpture from 2014/15 to 2015/16.
7This is an online survey of Toi Pōneke residents, room users and gallery artists. This year, we recieved 79 responses.
8The wording for this measure was incorrectly stated in the 2014/15 Annual Plan. The original target stated: 1.35 million people will visit Te Papa, included 495,000 New Zealand visitors and 352,000 from outside the region. We have tried to resolve this issue by reporting a fuller breakdown of visitor numbers than in prior years.