Our story

funding strategy

The contestable NZ On Air model is unique in the world.

Formed in 1989, with our functions set out in the Broadcasting Act, we invest in authentic New Zealand stories and songs.
This is public media content that reflects our cultural identity, which in turn helps build social cohesion, inclusion and connection.

So we can move smartly and quickly in a dynamic environment with fast-changing audience behaviour, we created just one strategy and platform-neutral fund, the NZ Media Fund.

Great New Zealand content is valued and enjoyed by many New Zealand audiences.

- the aim of The NZ Media Fund.

The public media we invest in will enrich the New Zealand cultural experience and strengthen community life, improve diversity of available content, be accessible and promote informed debate. It may entertain and it will add cultural value.

Funded content can be found on television, online and on radio. We aim to strike a balance of content for both general and targeted audiences.

Our approach

Our funding strategy has three goals:

  • Quality content – NZ audiences enjoy well-made local content that matters
  • Diverse content – NZ audiences value local content made for a range of communities
  • Discoverable content – NZ audiences can find and appreciate local content

Our job is to invest in important local content that New Zealand’s small market cannot provide alone.

Our flexible funding model, unique in the world, allows us to go where the audiences are, as we are not tied to a particular platform.

Strat Framework prt 1 resized.jpg

We balance our priorities between audiences and content types so that New Zealanders can find locally made content that appeals to them on the platforms they use.

We fund content for a variety of platforms.These platforms are ones that:

  • offer to co-invest in the production budget
  • provide free access to the content
  • provide a promotions plan for the funded content
  • can provide an audience for funded content that is appropriate for the size of the investment
  • will provide audience data after release
  • are established, viable businesses
  • have a sustained commitment to local content for New Zealand audiences.
Strategic Framework-prt 2.jpg

We are guided by nine investment principles:

  1. Cultural value: We prioritise content that tells engaging New Zealand social, cultural, political or historical stories; takes an innovative approach; is particularly appealing to a specific audience that is less well served with local content; and/or contributes to the Rautaki Māori.
  2. Balance: We balance mainstream content and special interest content for audiences cited in the Broadcasting Act.
  3. Risk: We are generous with creative risk in funded content; conservative with business risk.
  4. Competition: We support a range of content and entities, both to encourage multiple views and voices, and to encourage competition for the best ideas. We expect commissioning platforms to show a sustained commitment to New Zealand identity and culture.
  5. Value for money: We use efficient processes and focus on cost-effective content with a reasonable shelf-life that attracts audiences of an appropriate size.
  6. No duplication: We invest in content and entities that add diversity to content already available and which the market alone cannot support.
  7. Leverage: We prioritise content and entities that attract other investment (for market validation and to help offset the cost to the taxpayer), and which can leverage others aspects of our work ( eg. which intend to commission or license NZ music.)
  8. Capability: We prefer content and entities run or supported by capable partners. This means we can monitor efficiently, balancing robust accountability for public funds with a minimum of red tape. Investment support for unsupported start-ups will be unlikely.
  9. Fairness: We require accurate, reliable information from applicants to ensure good decision-making in a contestable environment.

Funding decisions for projects seeking $1m or under are made by a Staff Investment Committee. Projects seeking over $1m are determined by the Board.

Rautaki Māori


Waru, Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions for Māori Television

An important part of our funding strategy is to make special provision for Māori content.

Our Rautaki Māori ensures we:

  • support the production of quality Māori content made for a general audience
  • have good relationships with Māori content creators and
  • uphold the mana tangata and mana iwi of funded content.

Our work complements the work of Te Māngai Pāho.
We focus on content in English for audiences interested in te ao Māori, encouraging the use of te reo as appropriate to normalise the language for non-fluent audiences.

Click on the PDF below to read our entire Rautaki Māori document.

Working with Māori in the screen sector

Ngā Aho Whakaari (the association of Māori in Screen Production) has guidelines for working with Māori in the screen sector to ensure tikanga is understood and respected.

Working with Māori in Screen Production

Scripted strategy

Head High

Head High, South Pacific Pictures for Three

We aim to invest around half our contestable funds each year in Scripted content.

This funding stream includes audio/visual drama, comedy, animation and other entertaining content requiring a planned creative approach.

Projects range from relatively large budget television series and tele-features to smaller-scale quality webseries.

Our approach to investing in Scripted content is set out in the Scripted Roadmap.

We also have a Development Roadmap, because good drama takes time and patience to get right so a development process is necessary.

We consulted the industry before we decided on these approaches. The below is a summary of a summit held in September 2017. 130 drama production professionals came together to discuss a wide range of issues in drama.

Colonial Combat

Colonial Combat, Awa Films for TVNZ OnDemand

Drama & Comedy

We fund high-quality local drama for adults and children, innovative webseries, quirky animation, and many types of comedy.

Scripted content for Kids and Youth

Children and youth are key audiences for NZ On Air under the Broadcasting Act.

We fund content from drama and animation to webseries and apps for young people of all ages.

Funded by NZ On Air and operated by TVNZ, HEIHEI is a safe, ad-free platform where New Zealand tamariki can enjoy local stories, characters and adventures.

You can read more about HEIHEI here.

Māori Scripted content

We make special provision for Māori content, as described in our Rautaki Māori.

Māori content plays a crucial part in our vision of connecting and reflecting our nation.

Content development

Development funding helps content makers structure a concept; for example to develop treatments and scripts.

It is primarily for drama and animation projects, because these are high cost, high risk genres where more certainty is required before production funding can be considered.

Factual strategy

Who Cares Stare

Who Cares Stare, Attitude Pictures for HEIHEI

We aim to invest around half our contestable funds each year in Factual content.

This funding stream invests in audio/visual documentary and factual projects for diverse audiences.

Projects may involve different New Zealand regions and cultures, investigate significant local topics, cover events or issues important to our culture and identity, or reveal an aspect of te ao Māori.

Our Factual investments are guided by the Factual Roadmap.

We consulted the industry in devising the Factual Roadmap. The summary of a summit held in March 2019 is below.

Patrick Gower On Weed

Patrick Gower: On Weed, Ruckus Media for Three

Documentary & Information

New Zealanders have a strong appetite for local documentary and information content.

We fund quality, appealing documentaries and series, for different tastes and platforms, that use a mix of styles and story-telling techniques.

Specialist Current Affairs

Specialist current affairs is an area commercial platforms increasingly find difficult to support in a highly competitive market.

We only fund audio visual content, not text-based journalism, because we are the Broadcasting Commission and our mission under the Broadcasting Act is broadcast content. (Under the Act 'broadcast' includes content online.)

Factual content for Kids and Youth

Children and young people are priority audiences for NZ On Air. Public media funding ensures there is a range of content available for young New Zealanders that reflects and connects them.

Read more about the kinds of content we fund for young New Zealanders.

Māori Factual content

We make special provision for Māori content, as described in our Rautaki Māori.

Māori content plays a crucial part in our vision of connecting and reflecting our nation.

Regional Media

This funding is about supporting the supply of quality, civic journalism in the regions.

It is for audio visual content.

Spoken content (audio)

We provide funding support for priority genres to add diversity to the airwaves.

Our priority is spoken programmes on nationwide platforms to reach the largest number of listeners.

Music strategy


Songhubs 2020

Our music mission is to get more New Zealand music on radio, online, on any platform where the audience is.

The Music funding stream delivers music to radio and streaming services, and provides break-through opportunities to selected artists.

We actively promote New Zealand music to increase its discovery in a crowded market.

Platforms & services

Able captioner

Able, providing captions on screen content

We support a number of specially chosen platforms and services to create and deliver public media content of particular cultural and social value.

These include access and specialist radio stations, disability access services and online content discovery hubs.

This is a closed fund – we do not accept unsolicited applications.