NZ culture Web site in the works

The government is planning a Web portal celebrating New Zealand culture.

The government is planning a Web portal celebrating New Zealand culture.

The portal echoes Culture Online, which has just been announced by the British government.

The British site, which could cost up to $NZ350million, aims to explore the cream of UK museums, sites, and galleries, plus films and stage performances.

New Zealand's Ministry for Culture and Heritage already has its own Web site, www.mch.govt.nz, which has links to agencies such as NZ on Air, Te Papa museum, Creative NZ and the NZ Film Commission.

Ministry chief executive Martin Matthews says making information from across the New Zealand culture and heritage sector easily available by way of a central Web site is something the ministry is "very much in favour of".

"We have already carried out some preliminary work toward this end, and are undertaking discussions with other cultural agencies.

"It is still too soon, however, to be able to provide details as to the specific nature of such a Web site, the budgetary requirements, and the likely timeframe for launching such a project on the Internet," Matthews says.

The UK government has already announced initial funding of $NZ17 million for its site and is speaking to private investors to bring total funding upto $350 million.

Its culture secretary, Chris Smith, says the site will give people access to British culture at all levels and be a key resource for schools.

"It is bringing the chance to reach up, to learn, to stretch the mind, to every child and every home in the country. It could be for the new century what the Open University was to the 60s and Channel 4 [television] was to the 80s," he says.

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