March 2016

A note from the CEO

Jane Wrightson, Chief Executive

Here at NZ On Air we have got off to a cracking start to 2016. In addition to the usual start-of-year flurry, we have had our strategic thinking hats on. As a starter for 10, we’ve released an EOI document for an online place to curate and develop local content for NZ children. We hope this will get the creative juices flowing and that we will receive some strong proposals to consider. See more below.

In addition we have been working on our annual Statement of Performance Expectations for 2016/17, due to be published on Budget Day 26 May. In doing so we have been having a really hard think about the ongoing adaptations we must make to meet the challenges of the media environment. Watch this space.

The March round was small but perfectly formed - as you all know well enough by now there's not much left in the kitty. We are more mindful then ever of sticking to core public media principles in deciding what to fund. The details follow and include a terrific new independent doco opportunity for current affairs.

We’re also watching discussion about the funded TV2 drama Filthy Rich. Launching well, Filthy Rich has secured good support from its target audience via both broadcast and on demand. We all know how hard it is for drama series to get established.

Filthy Rich is an important part of our varied drama slate (see below) and also represents the continued commitment by TV2 to deliver relevant local drama to their viewers. It’s true we don’t currently have a dark Scandi drama in the mix – but neither do most free-to-air broadcast outlets. All of us in the local content industry are on the same side: fighting for success amid an endless tide of international content of all types. When a local programme succeeds, particularly drama as it's the hardest genre to get right, we all win. Let’s be patient and support the talents of the large numbers of people involved in this project.

Below you can see a fuller picture of what else is on our slate and that the work - and range - of drama is spread around.

Finally our congratulations to the projects funded in this round, across all areas of our work. We appreciate the hard work of all applicants and the quality ideas you put before us.



Children's EOI

This week we issued a call for Expressions of Interest in providing a cohesive online local content solution for NZ children. We're looking for platform partners to help curate a new platform and/or app for primary-aged children, where they can find and enjoy entertaining and informing content specifically for them. 

The idea has arisen out of consultation with the industry last year on a new approach to funding children's content. 

Submissions must be received by midday April 27. Questions arising from the EOI must be sent by email to Head of Digital Brenda Leeuwenberg by 11 April. We will publish all questions and answers on this page on our website on 15 April , so that all submitters have the same information. 

Health, safety & diversity

New Health & Safety legislation

The new Health And Safety At Work Act 2015 becomes effective on 4 April. We are busy working to make sure we have sound processes for our staff and also that entities we fund are aware of their obligations. Over the next couple of months you will start to see some minor changes to funding contract conditions and reporting requirements. This will enable us to be assured that you are aware of your obligations to keep workers safe. The new Act provides an important opportunity to reinforce and enhance health and safety practice in the work you do.

NZ On Air is also collaborating with other funding agencies and the guilds to support ScreenSafe, which is currently reviewing the Code of Practice for Safety and Health in the New Zealand Film & Video Production Industry (White Book). This is a major piece of work that will deliver updated guidelines that are compliant with the new legislation.

Diversity survey

For the past nine months we have been emailing the NZ On Air Diversity Survey to funded producers. This survey requests information on the gender and ethnicity of key personnel involved in the television and digital projects we have funded. We are collecting this information retrospectively once a project nears completion, and we plan to publish the first set of data in Q2 2016.

By publishing collated data annually we will provide public information from NZ On Air funded projects on diversity within key personnel, as well as the regional spread of production companies.

If you are contacted to complete this survey please provide as much information as possible to ensure we have a complete and robust data set.


The Cul De Sac - Greenstone TV for TV2

Drama slate

It's easy to forget, in the time between the funding announcements and shows actually screening, how much new content is currently being made. We thought it would be useful to publish here what's in production, or delivered but yet to screen. It serves as a good reminder of the diversity of programmes funded over time.

We will focus on a different genre in each newsletter. Today we are starting with drama.

In production:

Bombshell - The Sinking Of The Rainbow Warrior, (telefeature) 1 x 120 mins, Screentime New Zealand for TV One

Catching The Black Widow, (telefeature) 1 x 120 mins, KHF Media for TV One

Chief Gary, (film) 1 x 120 mins, Chief Gary for NZME

Dirty Laundry, (series) 13 x 60 mins, Filthy Productions for TV One

Find Me A Māori Bride 2 , (sitcom) 7 x 30 mins, Brown Sugar Apple Grunt for Māori Television

Hillary, (series) 6 x 60 mins, Great Southern Television for TV One

Jean, (telefeature) 1 x 120 mins, Lippy Pictures for TV One

Pork Pie, (film) 1 x 120 mins, Four Knights Film for Prime

Terry Teo, (children's series) 6 x 30mins, Semi-Professional for TV2

The Guinea Pig Club, (telefeature) 1 x 120 mins, Crimbil Equities for TV One

The Brokenwood Mysteries 3, (series) 4 x 120 mins, South Pacific Pictures for Prime

Tip Top Taj Mahal, (film) 1 x 120 mins, South Pacific Pictures for Choice TV

Westside 2, (series) 10 x 60 mins, South Pacific Pictures for TV3

Completed and awaiting broadcast:

Born To Dance,(film) 1 x 90 mins, Sector 7 Productions for Māori Television

Hunt For The Wilderpeople, (film) 1 x 120 mins, Majestical Productions for TV2

Mahana, (film) 1 x 120mins, The Patriarch Limited for Māori Television

The Cul De Sac, (children's series) 6 x 30 mins, Greenstone TV for TV2

The Dark Horse, (film) 1 x 120 mins,  Genesis Pictures for TV One

White Lies, (film) 1 x 120 mins, Medicinal Films for TV One

March round

The March meeting saw 20 applications across the General and Platinum funds seeking a total of nearly $6.7m. We were pleased to support 13 of these projects and confirmed funding of $4m delivering 35 hours of content.


A series of six one-hour, independently commissioned current affairs documentaries have been supported for screening within TV One’s Sunday programme. These in-depth programmes will extend the coverage of important New Zealand stories.

A second season of the popular history documentary series Making New Zealand has also been funded for Prime.


The series Heritage Rescue supported for Choice Television at the July meeting last year has received additional funding (alongside an increased broadcaster contribution) to extend the format to hour-long episodes. The wealth of material uncovered on the featured regional museums and collections in pre-production begged for longer episodes.


A new series Māia The Brave, from children's production house Pickled Possum, has been funded for screening on TV2. Aimed at pre-schoolers the series shows children how they can overcome their fears and gives them practical ways to deal with challenging situations.

Coverage of the annual Smokefree Rockquest has also been supported for 2016 with the heats and finals coverage screening on The Edge TV and TV3.

Funny Girls - MediaWorks TV for TV3


A second season of the well received comedy sketch series Funny Girls has been funded for TV3. Also supported is a new Leigh Hart series, Hartland, which will be screening on NZME’s online platform WatchMe.


An additional 15 episodes of the popular TV2 youth series Fresh have been supported. This will enable the series to run for 40 weeks and will include specific Māori content to serve rangatahi.

A further Rautaki series from the producer of The Palace will profile the multi-talented sisters Brooke and Starcia O’Neill as they look to leverage their international hip-hop dance careers in a new direction – singing, in Sisters for Māori Television.

Funding rounds

As might be expected with only one more funding round in the current financial year, remaining funds are very limited, which means the opportunity to fund new projects is constrained. Please contact the Head of Television to discuss any new applications you are considering submitting to the May meeting.


Congratulations to all the NZ finalists in the New York Festivals Awards. Winners will be announced on 19 April.

Westside - South Pacific Pictures for TV3

The finalists:   (* NZOA funded)                   

Climate Change & Sustainability category

  • Te Mana o te Moana - The Pacific Voyagers by Zoomslide & Oceanic Nature Film Productions

Community Portraits category

  • Gloriavale * by Pacific Screen Ltd

Culinary Programme category

  • Real Pasifik * by Zoomslide with Anna Marbrook & Robert Oliver

Drama category

  • Westside * by South Pacific Pictures

Health/Medical Information category

  • Predict My Future * by Razor Films

Sports & Recreation category

  • Paddle For The North by Monsoon Pictures International Ltd

Travel & Tourism category

  • Rachel Hunter's Tour of Beauty by Imagination Television Limited

50 golden years

Congratulations too to all who have been part of the iconic Country Calendar over its 50 years. A very fine programme made by talented people with a passion for telling uniquely kiwi stories. 

Digital Media

Canada NZ Digital Media Fund

This year the Canada Media Fund and NZ On Air are supporting three digital projects through the Canada-NZ Digital Media Fund.

Curious Critters, from Yoozoo in NZ and La Boite a Pitons in Canada, is a series of interactive stories, games and a website that will engage children with environmental issues in the real world. 

Fierce Girls, from Awatea Tech in NZ and Mama-oo Productions in Canada, is a transmedia story that centres around two indigenous teenagers who acquire superpowers; intended to inspire young indigenous women, giving them strength and belief in themselves.

Mythical Creatures, from Kiwa Digital in NZ and Arcana in Canada, is a series of motion comic videos that will tell stories of young boy’s adventures in a fantasy world based on the mythologies of Māori and First Nation people. It's aimed at 6-9 year old boys. 

One of the projects from last year, The Nations, has just launched. The Nations is a comedy battle between NZ and Canada, where comedians from each country are challenged to discover the best of each other’s offerings. The audience helps to decide who is the winning nation - take a look at

More new projects go live

12 Huia Birds - Yoozoo Ltd

This month two more projects for young audiences have been launched. 12 Huia Birds is an engaging interactive picture book app that brings to life the story of New Zealand’s huia bird. Each page is an illustrated delight, that encourages interaction and discovery while listening to or reading the story. Narrated in both te reo and english by George Henare, the 12 Huia Birds app is accompanied by worksheets and activities for teachers and parents. Download for free to your iOS or Android device:

Kete Kōrero is a live action drama and animation webseries that brings Māori mythology to life. Each episode is available in english and te reo, as well as a mixture of both to ensure our young learners can experience the stories at their language level. Designed for young children and their families, Kete Kōrero explores the values and lessons of some well-known Māori stories.

Both projects were funded through our Digital Media Fund and Kete Kōrero was co-funded by Te Mangai Pāho.


Ch ch ch changes

Brendan Smyth and our new Head of Music and Radio, David Ridler, at Flying Out in Auckland

After 26 years at NZ On Air and a lifetime of going above and beyond for NZ artists and their music, we recently said farewell to Brendan Smyth. Brendan is starting a well-deserved retirement but you haven’t heard the last of him. He is putting together a playlist that you will be able to listen to on AllTracks - it promises to be epic!

As we farewell one team member we welcome another and we would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to our new Head of Music and Radio - David Ridler. David has joined us from NZME's Radio Hauraki where he was the Content Director. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge with him, and having been our Assistant Music Manager once before (2008-2012), he already knows the ropes. David is based in our Auckland office and you can reach him at

Sponsored music events

We are very pleased to again provide sponsorship for this year’s Smokefree Rockquest, Smokefree Pacifica Beats, Going Global Music Summit, NZ Music Awards, and the Taite Music Prize. Celebrating the music of artists in this way and assisting with industry initiatives is integral to the work we do to support both the artists and our industry partners.

First up we are looking forward to the Taite Music Prize which will be awarded in Auckland on April 20. This prize celebrates outstanding creativity for an entire collection of music contained on one album. It's named in memory of maverick music journalist Dylan Taite, and supported by the Taite Family.
Congratulations to the 2016 Taite Music Prize finalists:

SJD – Saint John Divine
Nadia Reid – Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Princess Chelsea – The Great Cybernetic Depression
The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams
Anthonie Tonnon – Successor
Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams
Silicon – Personal Computer

This list shows an incredibly strong group of albums nominated for this year’s prize, and it’s particularly exciting for us to see each finalist is an artist we have been able to support at some point in their musical career.

(L-R) Taite Music Prize finalists: Marlon Williams, Princess Chelsea, SJD and Anthonie Tonnon

(L-R) Taite Music Prize finalists: The Phoenix Foundation, Nadia Reid, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Silicon

Festival season ain’t over

Summer may be starting to fade, but the music festivals keep rolling in with a very strong New Zealand music presence. This Saturday 19 March sees the inaugural Auckland City Limits multi-stage music festival to be held at Auckland’s Western Springs park. While there are some big international acts playing there are also a huge number of New Zealand acts on the bill, including Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shapeshifter, The Phoenix Foundation, Maala, Racing, Openside, Delaney Davidson, Hopetoun Brown, Brooks, The Naked & Famous, Tami Neilson and many more.

Just two weeks later, the Homegrown festival is back on Wellington's waterfront with the full 100% NZ music experience, on Saturday April 2. Headline acts include Kora, Shapeshifter, The Black Seeds, David Dallas, Avalanche City, Ladi6, Stan Walker, State Of Mind, Devilskin, Anika Moa feat. Tiki, Savage, Villainy, Blacklistt, Katchafire, Home Brew and many more. All Homegrown music all day, this festival is a great celebration of the popularity and diversity of New Zealand music.

The NZ On Air Music team will be present at both festivals and will post updates, pics, clips and more - @nzonairmusic on both Instagram and Twitter.

Community Broadcasting

Regional media 

Applications have now closed for the Regional Media RFP issued in December 2015. The RFP process follows on from the call for Expressions of Interest we published in August 2015 in response to the Paul France review of our Regional Television funding. Current arrangements for regional television funding cease on 30 August 2016.

NZ On Air will make decisions at its May 2016 meeting. A team of internal and external assessors is considering proposals now.


We congratulate Wellington Access Radio who bid successfully for the 106.1 FM frequency during a recent non-commercial licence allocation panel run by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The new frequency will help Wellington Access Radio expand its services and serve a wider Wellington audience. The station plans to be broadcasting on FM before the end of the year.

Industry Development

$170,500 worth of projects have been supported from the Industry Development Fund. Details are below.

Please remember that, as with all our contestable funds, we try to corral applications to specified meetings so that we can make fair and sensible decisions based on what's before us. Applications for the next Industry Development Fund round close on 12 August.

Funding decisions

The latest funding decisions for Television • Digital Media • Music • Community BroadcastingIndustry Development



Heritage Rescue
Top Shelf Productions for Choice TV • 4 x 60 • $144,486 (episodes extended to 60min)


Māia The Brave
Pickled Possum Productions for TV2 • 20 x 10 • $495,426

Smokefree Rockquest 2016
Commotion for The Edge TV • 6 x 30 • $319,050


Funny Girls 2
Mediaworks TV for TV3 • 6 x 30 • $366,432

NZME for NZME • 10 x 15 • $149,156


Rogue Productions for Māori Television 6 x 30 $309,513

Special Interest

Fresh 2016
Tikilounge Productions for TV2 • 15 x 30 • $699,681 (additional episodes)



Making New Zealand 2 
Top Shelf Productions for Prime • 3 x 60 • $523,169


Lippy Pictures for TV One • 1 x 120 • $86,700 (additional)

News / Current Affairs 

Sunday Specials
TVNZ for TV One • 6 x 60 • $900,000

Digital Media

Curious Critters Club
Yoozoo • $228,994

Fierce Girls
Awatea Tech • $228,984

Mythical Creatures
Kiwa Media • $144,174


Making Tracks • Recording and Music Video • $10,000

Boyboy • Vices
Groeni • Hinde (Special Tracks - Redbull)
Cavalcade • Dead In The Water
Cymbol 303 Featuring Tamagotchii • Slipping 
Finlay Tate • Control
Indi • Precipice
Jesse Sheehan • Droplets
Ladi6 • Beffy
Louis Baker • Fade
Mae Valley • Glitter
Miss June • Anxiety On Repeat
Nomad • Oh My My
Shapeshifter • Stars
So Below • Far
The Upbeats Featuring Mara Tk • Ultraviolet 
Will Slugger • Waterslide
Yumi Zouma • Keep It Close To Me

Making Tracks • Music Video • $6,000

Denelle • The Lights
Great Danes featuring Kimbra • Where The Down Bit Starts 
Nadia Reid • Reaching Through
Opiuo • Sneakers
Orchestra Of Spheres • Trapdoors
Silence The City • Voices
Wallace • Negroni Eyes

Community Broadcasting

Easter 2016
Christian Broadcasting Association for Newstalkzb • 1 x 720 • $18,000

Capital project 
Access Radio Wairarapa Charitable Trust  •  $7,096

Industry Development

NZ Web Fest 2016 
NZ Web Fest • $10,000

Going Global Music Summit 2016 
Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) • $2,000 

NZ Music Awards 2016 • $125,000 

NZ Radio Awards 2016
Radio Broadcasters Association • $7,500 

Pacific Music Awards 2016
Pacific Music Awards Trust • $16,000 

Taite Music Prize 2016
Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) • $10,000