A reader writes about the NZSO

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A reader emails regarding the NZSO:

Dear Whaleoil

re the NZSO – talks of scrapping.  Personally, I go and see this world class orchestra whenever they come to the nearest town I live in.  I am not an elitist rich person – simply someone who enjoys great music.   With their support of music in schools programme, concerts in remote parts of NZ  and scholarships to help budding musicians – the NZSO does a damn site more for the average Joe Bloggs than any sports team does.

How come its OK for John Key and his elitist Auckland friends to give away 34 million dollars  from the tax coffers so a team of so called ‘ elite athletes’ can go on a glorified holiday to San Francisco to take part in a yacht race they have no hope in hell of winning – yet you think giving 13 mill to preserve the heritage of fine music in this country is wrong.

I challenge you to pay the $25 per seat it costs and go and see the NZSO in action – you will be amazed.

These days people pay in the hundreds to go and see the likes of  Justin Beiber[sic] who can’t sing for shyte[sic]. If you take into account how many police are required to quell the crowds of screaming brats – this must be very costly indeed.

The NZSO gives the tax payers value for money indeed.  The are World Class and if we loose[sic] them we loose[sic] a valuable part of our culture.   Dare I say the gov’t is not averse to giving money to Kapa Haka groups and crap rappers?  Why should people who appreciate classical music be penalised.

Just sayin

Well, where do I start? Firstly thank you for writing.

I agree the waste spent on the Americas Cup is a valid criticism…it is time to stop funding the sailors too. Once you start looking at these sorts of waste it really is easy to see how the government could save literally billions. While we are at it we should also cancel the funding of the Royal NZ Ballet.

You mention preserving the “heritage of fine music”…this is not my heritage…nor I suspect the heritage of many in West Auckland who would probably prefer the government fund an all heavy metal radio station than a bunch of mucical bludgers playing music from long dear Germans and Austrians with a few dead Russians chucked in. Their bogan heritage is far more valuable than the music of dead Germans and Austrians with a few dead Russians chucked in.

Regarding the $25 you pay to go see the NZSO. That is but a pittance in actuality. The real cost of your $25 seat is actually $185 plus. The government subsidises your seat by more than $160.

You mention people paying hundreds of dollars to see Justin Bieber…perfectly proving my point that if musicians produce a quality product then the market will reward them accordingly. There is no taxpayer dollars going into subsidising seats for Justin Bieber or indeed any overseas act producing concerts in New Zealand.

If the NZSO was as world class as you claim then let them fund themselves and charge hundreds of dollars for seats at their concerts instead of their musicians being in receipt of what is essentially the musicians dole.

Finally Kapa Haka can go jump too, along with the NZSO, the Ballet, The Americas Cup and any other rubbish unnecessary spending.


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  • Blokeintakapuna

    Ministry of Woman’s Affairs could be added to the list…

    Talk about discrimination based on gender! Where’s the Ministry of Men?

    • AzaleaB

      Surprisingly I agree. Outdated now.

  • Mully

    As I recall, Labour signed up the government to funding the yachting.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    Americas Cup has a trickle down effect right through the marine industry and others. A lot of jobs have been created through development of marine products.
    Think of it this way: you would not have a zip on your pants if NASA did not develop it.
    NZSO does not create anything other than subsidised pleasure for a few arty-fartys

    • Michael

       So NASA was around in 1851 when the zipper was invented? Wow, those Americans play a long game.

      • Euan Rt

        I think it was actually velcro that Nasa came up with?

      • Guest

        Yeah, velcro was invented by a Swiss astronaut in in 1958.  Didn’t know he was on retainer from NASA.

      • Dr Wang

        Guest: I didn’t know that the Swiss had put an astronaut in space in 1958???

  • Cas

    I agree with your reader. Whenever the NZSO (or bits of it) come to a town near me I try and go and i know it is being subsidised but I like to hear some good music.

    If it is $13m, well compare that to the $$$$ spent on buying us some Olympic medals. About 3 times that isn’t it?

  • captain Kidd

    Why the hell are people so thick as to not realise that if something is value people will pay for it,if its not they wont.Why should I pay for this,and if I should why wont he pay for me to go gliding,something I enjoy.FFS.

    • BG

      Weak point, as I could use the same argument for council libraries, pools, National Parks, even roads. Anyone could make the argument about anything they have no interest in. I don’t use them so why should I pay for it?

      You’re coming across as mean spirited and self loathing. 13 mil is chicken feed on what we spend on ‘policy consultants’ and i dear say, travel for ex-MPs.

  • Apolonia

    Lets just borrow $300million a week and we can have all these unnecessary things.

  • Kiwininlondon

    Many of the NZSO musicians are not even New Zealanders.  They source musicians from Eastern Europe and Russia and don’t give local musicians a chance.  Many local musicians would love the chance to be professional and be paid $90,000 per year but are not selected.  I don’t think they should be subsidized. As long as they keep subsidizing local drama like the GC – which really does reflect New Zealand, then I’ll be happy. 

  • davewin

    And while we at it, the poofs parade, Waitangi Day, Maori Settlements, and of course the drivel of sending Cabinet Ministers and other hangers on to Gallipoli. Get rid of 300 members of MFAT, the Army, Navy and Air Force bands.The we can charge $160 a day for the Seats in parliament, and maybe, I can get on with running a business without the handicap of half a hundred idiots stamping pieces of paper. What a beautiful place the country will be !

    • Guest

      Don’t forget the subsidies to the NZ Game Council, or the covert subsidy regional fish and game councils obtain through their monopoly to sell hunting and fishing licenses.  The right to sell licenses should be opened to the market, and a fair market price established for them.  Don’t want hunters being subsidised by my taxes.

  • Michael

    We have a proud history of producing utter crap entertainment under the “made in New Zealand”  label. I do not imagine a new-look NZSO consisting of local talent and local composers will do any better than our efforts at producing television. (Unless we loosen the bonds placed on the industry by the obligations of the treaty /sarcasm)

    Perhaps we should just pay local or foreign musicians a percentage of the gate take whenever they perform – if they are good enough to do it professionally, they will have a living, otherwise they will be amateurs, and have real jobs that keep them in beer and ciggies while they practise their hobby in the evenings.

    Now when it comes to sport, we have an edge. Maybe we should export professional sportsmen to the rest of the world…wait, where are those ABs going again?

  • Tristanb

    You can reassure your reader, that even though the NZSO should not be subsidised by the taxpayer, that no politician will ever have the balls to remove it. Which I think is a pity – there’s shitloads of stuff that our country could save money by stopping taxpayer funding.

  • unitedtribes

    Im still a little in favour of the reader on this one.

  • Michael

    What I can’t believe is the millions that gets thrown into the Concert Programme with a very narrow listener base.  Anyone know what the number of listeners is? I’d bet that it would be cheaper to download all the files they play and distribute them to the (maximum of 66,000) listeners than actually broadcast the programme.

    • Axe that too..and flog off Radio New Zealand at the same time

  • John Q Public

    Justin Bieber????

  • DrCP

    Just as well John Key has Austrian heritage so that someone in National can appreciate “the music of dead Germans and Austrians” that the NZSO sometimes play. 

    And last time I checked, Elgar, Purcell, Handel and Brian Eno were English classical composers.

    Heck, even Jonathan Lemalu and Dame Kiri get it…….

  • nzd.gbp

    Classical music is adult food and is good for you and you should make sure you get regular doses of live performances but it’s not my job to dip into my own pocket and pay for you to go if you don’t even love it enough to fork out for yourself. And don’t tell me you can’t afford the full price. You can afford an over-priced political establishment (that you keep voting for), ugly, uninsulated, leaky, over-priced houses, not to mention food, clothes etc etc. It’s a matter of priorities.

    It’s sad that koiwois don’t like that elitist posh shit but NZ is a small, beautiful, empty archipelago in the south pacific so it doesn’t really matter in the end. The rest of the world will get over it. 

  • Hagues

    “I am not an elitist rich person – simply someone who enjoys great music.”

    Well bully for you. I also happen to simply enjoy going to what I consider to be great music. Perhaps for the next concert I want to go to you can dip into your pocket for $125 so I only have to pay $25 since I’ve been paying towards your tickets for so long?

    • Pukakidon

       Same for me though, my taxes paid for the venue that you went to watch Justin Bieber in.   So your entertainment has been subsidised as well.

      • Guest

        I’m guessing a few more tax payer funded cops are required at a pop or rock concert than at the NZSO.  That was the case last time I went.

      • Hagues

         Ahhh no, I have taste thanks.

      • parorchestia

         No – performers have to pay an economic rate for the hire of the venue.

    • patriot

      For the record – $30+ million spent of the Americas Cup , has in the past brought the Cup and  $millions of economic marine industry activity to NZ , when NZ won the Cup in San Diego and defended it in Akld — NZ got a lot of visiting Yachtsmen who spent in NZ, a lot more than the NZSO will ever generate

      Plus NZ was on TV broadcast around the world during the americas cup giving NZ some brand exposure and tourism exposure — when was the NZSO last on TV broadcast to US and other parts of the world doing something for NZ tourism

      As a comparitive spend — NZSO is a waste of money , where Americas Cup can put NZ in US living rooms

  • GregM

    Funny thing is, the one time I did go to see the NZSO, it was STUNNING. Absolutely blew me away, and I would pay $ 160 to see them perform again. It really was awesome.
    Why don’t they just raise the ticket prices and see what happens?

  • Bobby202

    I’m pretty sure it’s been established well and truly that every dollar spent on the America’s cup by the government is recouped with interest through industries and businesses which benefit directly because of the cup/team (some exist solely because of NZ’s entries). Spending money there isn’t “spending money on rich sailors”, it’s investing money on a sure winner. To not invest in it would be incompetence on the government’s part based on the previous three America’s Cups NZ has been involved in.

    I doubt the the NZSO make a comparable case.

  • Cadwallader

    If the NZSO is to be scrapped as being an attraction for liberal elitist wankers then what is the future of the Labour Party? Minimal I hope!

  • I can understand the market comments (re Beiber – who can sing & is actually an accomplished musician, but just sings crap songs – vs NZSO), but to complain about the megre funding of the NZSO, NZ ballet etc & so-called waste of taxpayer dollars is rubbish.

    1/2 a million or more NZers go & see these things every year – this is a huge proportion of NZers….more in fact than the number of NZers who actually pay enough tax to have a say on anything.

    Like Greg M says – they could always raise the prices (RNZB isnt subsidised nearly as much as for a start the tickets are often aorund $80 per ticket & they have huge sponsoring) & I bet most people who love these shows would still go.

    But that doesnt sort the ‘wasting my tax dollars argument’. 

    For a start, in order for you to claim it is a waste of YOUR tax dollars you have to first prove that you are in fact paying the taxes to begin with.

    Unless you’re in the top 10% of NZers I would say you’re not (http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/07/net_taxpayers.html)

    Which means for most people it is a case of put up or shut up as quite frankly there are far more ducks that could fall before the axe our arts….

    America’s Cup, all things Rugby & Rugby League, WELFARE (& I mean the whole lot), funding that leads the way to child molestors having a national voice, non comedic crass shows, stupid shows like shortland street, go girls, fair go etc etc, the Olympics where most of our athletes have more chance of meeting God than they do getting a medal (it’s embarrassing how far removed we have come from the days of Lydiard – if our runners would go back to this system we would win), SPARC….the list can go on & on.

    There is loads of things that this country pays for that many us dont want or dont like, but when it comes to the arts whose main supporters may very well be the taxpayers who actually fund this country, then leave it alone…..it is the one thing we get for our tax dollar so at least let us have that!

  • Lol

    I think if you got off your ass and went to the orchestra is might help your mental illness and maybe help you get a job, bludger