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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 12. 1967.

A half fiction - NZ arts

A half fiction - NZ arts

"To speak on the arts in New Zealand gives me a rather uneasy feeling," said the novelist Maurice Shadbolt, opening the New Zealand Universities' Arts Festival in Christchurch.

"It is to perpetuate a half-fiction—a wallpaper contrived to cover the cracks in the jerry-built house we call society.

"Culture must be part of a genuine, indigenous growth, not some mindless and sentimental transplant. New Zealanders are content to buy the trappings of imported culture without regard or understanding for the values which underline any genuine cultural activity.

"If I were to talk seriously about the arts in New Zealand," Mr. Shadbolt said. "nine-tenths of my conversation would be about Polynesian art forms, which provide practically all the culture we can claim as native to ourselves.

"Those who quote something like the National Orchestra as indicative of our art forms seem to choose, deliberately., those instances which prove we have no indigenous art and are prepared to make do with imported forms. The readymade culture supported by the Queen Elizabeth Arts Council and the official barbarism of the NZBC are part of the arrogance and ignorance which leaves us rootless."

Mr. Shadbolt stressed that it is impossible to consider the position of the arts in New Zealand apart from the condition of New Zealand in the world.

"If anything characterises New Zealand it is the slavish imitation of other nations in every aspect of life. We are prepared to accept the readymade in politics as in culture, We still attempt artistically to anchor outside San Francisco if not Southampton, while our foreign policy is a sluggish, mindless imitation of Britain, the United States, and even the United States' role in Asia.

"We don't know where we live, because we have not claimed this land as our own in our imagination; we have to a certain extent rejected it Milford is not a pasteboard replica of a European fiord it is Polynesian, but this never occurs to us."

Mr. Shadbolt sees this rejection of Polynesian culture as a sin—a rejection of the fears and aspirations of humanity.

"The function of the arts." he said, "is to illuminate man his tribal world and the universe, to enhance life and give it greater value. The pristine approach of Maori art is an attempt to explain the wonders of the universe.

"New Zealanders have something to offer from this country, which must be imaginatively felt and explored. We must not be content with an imported culture."

There's no good girl's lip out of Paris.—Swinburne.

The Puritan hated bearbaiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.—Macaulay.

A majority is the best repartee.—Disraeli.

Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent.—Disraeli.