NZ On Air has announced the allocation of more than $2.25 million funding for new documentary projects for broadcast on Prime TV and TV One.
"Our research consistently shows us that the documentary is the most watched and enjoyed programme-type we support," said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson. "This funding will contribute to more than 15 hours of television - telling stories unique to New Zealand."
At the forefront of the range of documentaries given the nod this time is Fifty Years of Television in New Zealand, a seven-part series celebrating local television since its arrival here in 1960.
"The series will screen in 2010 on Prime," Ms Wrightson said. "It's a comprehensive overview of how television has evolved in New Zealand. From news and information to drama and comedy, sport, music and variety shows - even Telethons! It's all there, and it's all us. Some of it will make us laugh, now, but there is also so very much to be proud of."
Fifty Years of Television in New Zealand will examine the ways in which television has influenced society and culture in New Zealand, and, in turn, how our own culture has changed a very powerful medium. "It promises to be spell-binding," Ms Wrightson said.
NZ On Air has also approved funding for three documentary projects for TV One. Caravan of Life is a seven-part series that travels the New Zealand heartland, visiting A & P shows, schools and small towns, highlighting real New Zealand characters. "It's an affectionate look at real Kiwis," said Ms Wrightson.
Out of the Māori Innovation Fund comes a primetime series dedicated to finding out the real stories behind leading New Zealand rangatira.
"Te Ohaki tells the stories of four Māori leaders who shaped our history," said Ms Wrightson. "Through the eyes of some well-known descendents, we'll encounter larger-than-life figures Te Rauparaha, Tuhawaiki, Te Wherowhero and Te Kooti.
Rounding out this month's documentary slate is Saving Face, a one-hour examination of the New Zealand doctors who pioneered reconstructive surgery techniques in two World Wars.
"The achievements of Harold Gillies, Henry Pickerill and Archie McIndoe are the stuff of legend," Ms Wrightson said, "and their pioneering work contributes to developments in cosmetic surgery to this day."
Fifty Years of Television in New Zealand
7 x 1 hour
Producer: John Bates
Cream Media Ltd
Caravan of Life $336,812
7 x ½ hour
Broadcaster: TV One
Producer: Melanie Rakena & Jane Andrews
JAM TV Ltd
Te Ohaki $549,290
4 x 1 hour
Producer: Nevak Ilolahia
Ponsonby Productions Ltd
Saving Face $155,171
1 x 1 hour
Producer: Vincent Burke
Top Shelf Production