Peters talks up pop culture for peace

Last updated 11:41 23/12/2013
NZ First leader Winston Peters.
Fairfax NZ
FOR PEACE: Winston Peters believes the internet can't be left alone to guide cultural diplomacy.

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Diplomacy in the digital age means New Zealand needs to leverage off its "cultural ambassadors" like never before, says NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Those ambassadors include the likes of Lorde, Sir Peter Jackson and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, he said.

Speaking to the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy at Berlin in Germany, Peters said sites like YouTube and Twitter meant those New Zealand high-achievers would have a much greater impact on the worlds' view of this country than any Government ever could.

"In a digital environment where non-government factors dominate the cultural space, governments need to be clever and sophisticated if they are to have any impact at all," he said.

"Our tourism people have been active in following-up the enormous interest generated in New Zealand as a country by Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies with a reasonably sophisticated multimedia campaign."

Peters said Jackson, along with 17-year-old singer Auckland singer Lorde "would have far greater impact than any government minister or ambassador in promoting New Zealand on the international stage".

But he said diplomacy could not be left up to the internet alone.

"Some say the internet is the answer to those who argue for a taxpayer funded global cultural exchange programmes.

"Well if haphazard, directionless, unfocused outcomes are being sought then they would be right. However, cultural diplomacy is far too important to be left to accident."

Peters said one of the exceptions was Korean pop singer Psy's Gangnam Style single.  

"Hundreds of millions sharing a harmless craze on YouTube and laughing together may be as helpful for world peace as some meetings at the United Nations.

"Let's face it - it's hard to fight when you are dancing around pretending to be a horse."

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