A stellar line-up of new local factual and documentary programmes


Media Releases · Television · 14th December 2015

NZ On Air will invest $5.27 million in a sparkling line-up of new and returning documentary and factual programmes exploring New Zealand’s stories and characters.

Ben And Olivia: Searching For The Truth is a one-off Platinum docu-drama in which journalist Mike White re-investigates the evidence against Scott Watson who was convicted of killing Olivia Hope and Ben Smart in the Marlborough Sounds in 1998. To screen in TV One’s prestigious Sunday Theatre slot, the feature is based on Mike White’s behind-bars interview with Watson.

A new series hosted by one of New Zealand’s most influential cultural exports, expat comedian John Clarke, will take an irreverent look at what’s changed since he left New Zealand in 1977. Decades after he graced our screens as Fred Dagg, Clarke’s New Zealand : A User’s Guide will bring wry humour to bear on an examination of kiwi culture and success.

Three of NZ On Air’s most popular recent factual series will be back with more. The DNA Detectives will return for series two, again using DNA technology to trace ancestry of well-known New Zealanders. A second series of Grand Designs NZ will continue to traverse the country finding spectacular building design projects. Jools and Lynda Topp will return with a third and final series of their hugely popular Topp Country.

A feature-length observational documentary on former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been supported, along with the NZ Film Commission. My Year With Helen will follow Helen Clark for a year in her role as head of the United Nations Development Programme.

And a new series for Māori Television Toa Hunter Gatherer is a hunting programme with a twist - a focus on ethical and spiritual practise in hunting.

“The projects we have supported this round are excellent and diverse and we very much look forward to seeing them on our screens. Sadly we have had to decline several other very good projects due to insufficient funds remaining,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

The $5.3 million worth of projects supported came from an overall pool of applications in this genre seeking $14 million.

Funding details

The DNA Detectives, 6 x 1 hr, Jam TV for TV One, $1,279,725

Ben and Olivia: Searching For The Truth, 1 x 1 ½ hrs, Production Shed TV for TV One, $1,027,660 (Platinum fund)

Grand Designs NZ 2, 10 x 1 hr, Imagination Television for TV3, $900,000

Topp Country 3, 10 x ½ hr, Diva Productions for TV One, $746,007

New Zealand : A User’s Guide, 6 x ½ hr, Hikoi NZ for TV3, $572,632

Toa Hunter Gatherer, 8 x ½ hr, Awa Films for Māori Television, $240,000

My Year With Helen, 1 x 1 hr, Gaylene Preston Productions for TV3, $199,000

Great War Stories 3 & 4, 14 x 3 mins, AC Productions for TV3, $197,108

Waitangi 2016 – A Walk Among The Crowds, 1 x 5 hrs, Māori Television for Māori Television, $108,661