I know in these austere times culture has to pay its way. And I have no problem with the various tourism stalls and other commercial interests plying their wares in the foyers of the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Hamburg for the Rauru reopening events. It would be especially hard to begrudge Rotorua’s Te Puia: New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute and Whakarewarewa Living Themal Village. And the man from Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours seemed like a good enough sort.
I do think if the only New Zealand authors to get official passage to the Frankfurt Book Fair are those with books in German translation then New Zealand Trade and Enterprise might have been expected to follow suit with a translated version of its New Zealand Performance booklet, rather than handing out obvious leftovers from last year’s Rugby World Cup, embossed with “New Zealand 2011″.
And while we’re at it, what does that say about the relative value placed on culture versus sport? Crumbs from the top table or what?
These, however, are quibbles. What really stuck in the craw during today’s events was that the reopening ceremony took place in front of two cardboard stands (one of which is pictured) directing the gathered multitudes to newzealand.com/business.
Not to newzealand.com/culture (as if there’d ever be such a thing), not even to newzealand.com/business and newzealand.com/culture, but to newzealand.com/business and newzealand.com/business alone.
A trifle vulgar, don’t you think? Sinister even, in its implications for what now constitutes the national brand.
Someone needs reminding who’s riding on whose coat-tails here.
Guy Somerset is in Germany to cover the Frankfurt Book Fair courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.