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Time use – time for culture

As with all reports published as part of the cultural statistics programme, this brochure is a joint Statistics New Zealand / Ministry for Culture and Heritage publication.

The time New Zealanders spend on cultural activities

From July 1998 to June 1999, around 8,500 New Zealanders aged 12 years and over took part in the country’s first national Time Use Survey. This involved keeping a diary of everything they did over a two-day period and answering questions about themselves, their households and their activities. This pamphlet summarises the information gathered on cultural activities, as defined by the New Zealand Framework for Cultural Statistics/Te Anga Tatauranga Tikanga-ā-iwi.

The survey collected information on people’s primary or main activity and any secondary or simultaneous activities. The primary activity is that which respondents recorded in the first column of their time use diaries. This analysis focuses on primary activities, as most cultural activities tend to be in this category. Figures are provided for simultaneous activities only when this is a major component of the time spent on an activity, for instance watching television and video or listening to music and radio.

In a sample survey it is not always possible to obtain reliable estimates for all topics of interest. The pursuit of some cultural activities tends to occur sporadically rather than regularly, so a respondent’s participation may not be captured in the survey period. If the number of respondents reporting the activity is too low, the sampling error may be too high to allow reliable estimates, particularly for different population sub-groups. However, for most activities the survey provides reliable estimates when averaged across the total population, while for the more frequent activities analysis is also possible by age and sex.

The following analysis reports the survey findings on the average amount of time New Zealanders spent on cultural activities. These are classified according to the major categories in the New Zealand Framework for Cultural Statistics, beginning with Māori cultural activities, which come within the category of Taonga Tuku Iho.

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Taonga Tuku Iho

As well as filling out time use diaries, respondents were asked whether they had undertaken certain activities in the four weeks prior to being interviewed. The results showed that 35 percent of Māori and 5 percent of non-Māori had participated in a Māori cultural activity. Among Māori, the most popular cultural activity (reported by 21 percent of respondents) was participating in a Māori event. This was followed by teaching or learning the skills of Māori cultural activities (17 percent), teaching or learning te reo Māori (17 percent), working at a hui for some purpose relevant to Māori (15 percent), and holding a conversation in te reo Māori (15 percent).

For non-Māori the most common Māori cultural activity was participating in other events which help to maintain Māori culture (2.1 percent), followed by participating in a Māori event (1.6 percent) and teaching or learning te reo Māori or the skills of Māori cultural activities (1.5 percent each).

Among Māori, differences in participation were evident between men and women. Māori women participated in larger numbers across all Māori activities, with the exception of maintaining marae grounds and/or buildings, or managing Māori land.

The survey also recorded how much time people spent on ceremonies or rituals significant to Māori culture. Māori spent an average of five minutes a day or 36 hours a year on such activities, while non-Māori participation was too low to be reliably recorded. When people do participate in Māori cultural activities, however, the amount of time involved can be significant. On days when people reported participation in such activities, the average amount of time involved was 4.6 hours.

Figure 1: Proportion of Māori participating in Māori cultural activities, by sex

Graph, Proportion of Maori participating in Maori cultural activities by sex.

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Heritage

In the cultural statistics framework, the category of heritage includes museums, art galleries, archives and historic places. The Time Use Survey collected information on time spent visiting exhibitions, museums and art galleries. However, because these are infrequent activities for most people, the average time recorded was only around 1.5 hours a year (and this number should be treated with caution due to the low number of people involved). Participation was too low to allow more detailed analysis.

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Library services

Visiting libraries is also a sporadic activity for most people, taking up 2.9 hours a year on average, with the time being slightly greater for females than for males (3.1 hours a year compared with 2.7 hours). Again, participation in this activity was too low to analyse further.

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Literature

The survey does not provide information on creative literary activities but it does tell us how much time people spend reading outside of paid work. The figures show that reading is a pursuit that often occurs in conjunction with other activities. People may read newspapers or magazines or books when they are travelling, eating or drinking, working, caregiving, watching television or listening to music. Overall, people spent an average of 44 minutes a day reading, the slight majority of which (24 minutes) occurred as a primary activity. Females and males spent a similar amount of time reading (45 minutes and 43 minutes a day respectively).

As Figure 2 shows, the amount of time spent reading increases steadily with age and more markedly once people reach retirement age and have more free time available. While 12 to 24-year-olds spent an average of just 11 minutes a day reading as a primary activity and 10 minutes as a simultaneous activity, people in the 65 plus age group read for 58 minutes a day as a primary activity and 38 minutes as a simultaneous activity.

Figure 2: Average minutes per day spent reading by priority of activity and age

Graph, Average minutes per day spent reading by priority of activity and age.

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Performing arts

The survey showed that people spent an average of 15.9 hours a year taking part in the performing arts. This participation was much greater among young people, with those aged 12-24 averaging 38.5 hours a year on this activity, compared with 9.2 hours for those aged 25 and over. Males spent more time taking part in performing arts than females (18.7 hours a year, compared with 13.2 hours). This category includes activities such as music, theatre and dance, but it is not possible to provide separate figures for each of these activities.

People spent less time attending performing arts as spectators than they did actually taking part in performing arts. Attending as a spectator occupied just six hours a year when averaged across all people. Although the figures are too low to be analysed in detail they do indicate that females spend more time than males on this activity, in contrast to the pattern among those taking part in performing arts.

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Film and Video

Attending the cinema took up an average of 8.3 hours over the course of a year. Figures indicate that young people aged 12 to 24 spent by far the most time on this activity and that females spent more time than males. However, as attending the cinema is a relatively infrequent activity for most people, more detailed analysis is not possible. Time spent watching videos is recorded in the same category as television watching, which is discussed below in the broadcasting section.

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Broadcasting

Watching television or videos was recorded as an activity in 88 percent of the daily diaries kept by Time Use Survey respondents, making television watching the most popular leisure time activity of New Zealanders. On average, people watched just under two hours (119 minutes) of television or videos per day as a primary activity, in addition to a further 48 minutes a day as a simultaneous activity when engaged in some other task. Overall, males watched slightly more television and video than females. However, while males spent more time than females on this as a primary activity (130 minutes compared with 109 minutes), females were more likely than males to watch as a simultaneous activity while they were also engaged in other tasks (54 minutes compared with 42 minutes).

Figure 3: Average hours per day spent watching television or video by priority of activity and age

Graph, Average hours per day spent watching television or video by priority of activity and age.

As Figure 3 shows, those who spent the most time watching television or video were in the youngest and oldest age groups. People aged 12-24 on average watched a total of around three hours of television or video daily (as either a primary or simultaneous activity), as did those aged 55-64. But the greatest amount of viewing was done by people in the retirement age group, who spent an average of around three and a half hours a day watching television or video. In the intervening age groups, when people’s family responsibilities and involvement in the paid labour force is greater, less time is spent watching television or videos. In addition, a greater proportion of this is done as a simultaneous activity, often in combination with domestic duties such as caring for families.

Listening to the radio or music is another cultural activity which often occurs as a background activity when people are engaged in other pursuits, such as working or attending to household or personal tasks.

Figure 4: Average minutes per day spent listening to music or radio by priority of activity and age

Graph, Average minutes per day spent listening to music or radio by priority of activity and age.

Overall, people spent an average of just eight minutes a day listening to the radio or music as a primary activity, but 59 minutes doing so as a simultaneous activity.

As Figure 4 shows, radio and music listening was relatively high among younger people, but it declined between the ages of 25 and 44 before increasing again in the older age groups. Radio and music listening peaked in the 65 plus age group when people spent an average of 17 minutes a day on it as a primary activity and 78 minutes as a simultaneous activity. Overall, women spent slightly more time than men listening to music or radio (69 minutes compared with 60 minutes a day), a pattern which was most marked among young people (aged 12-24) and those in the older age groups (55-64 and 65 plus).

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Community and government activities

The survey collected information on both religious and secular activities that may be categorised as community activities. Information on ethnic community activities is only available for Māori, and this is presented above under the heading of Taonga Tuku Iho.

Religious practice took up 23 hours a year when averaged across the whole population. The figure was greater for females than for males and higher for older people than for younger people. Though many people do not participate in religious practice, the average is boosted by the fact that on days when people did participate it occupied an average of 81 minutes. Other forms of community participation identified by the survey occupied little time on average. Attending meetings of political, citizen, fraternal, union, professional, special interest, identity groups, etc took up an average of 3.4 hours a year. Participation in other civic responsibilities (for example, voting, jury duty or attending court) was too low to provide reliable estimates, although the available data suggests a figure of around an hour a year on average.

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Conclusion

Time spent on cultural activities varies markedly across different types of activity. Mass-media and free-time activities such as watching television or video, listening to music or radio and reading are everyday activities for most people and occupy a reasonable amount of time in the average day. Television and video watching is the most popular cultural activity by far. Often these pursuits occur as simultaneous activities while people are engaged in other tasks.

On the other hand, cultural activities such as attending or participating in the performing arts, or visiting exhibitions, museums and art galleries are for most people more infrequent events which require a more deliberate commitment of time. Consequently, the time spent on these activities is relatively low when averaged across the whole population over the course of a day or even a year. This is not necessarily indicative of the value placed on such activities but reflects the different nature of participation in comparison with everyday mass-media activities.

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