2 June 2023

NZ On Air is investing $8.5m in six captivating new series specifically designed to engage our youngest viewers, both locally and internationally.

This second children’s content funding round of the year focused on projects with aspirations for international co-productions and/or eligibility for the NZ Screen Production Grant (NZSPG).

The stories selected are firmly rooted in Aotearoa, bringing to life unique stories in the accents and languages familiar to us. NZ On Air’s Head of Funding Amie Mills says the agency’s new Children’s content strategy recognises that children access content on many different platforms.

“Having distribution deals that will see content appearing on platforms far and wide means there’s a greater chance of our tamariki finding and connecting with these beautiful, imaginative stories,” she says.

“It’s also a huge boon for our wider creative communities that three of these projects have sprung from local authors’ published books, and three champion original New Zealand music,” Ms Mills continued.

Red Rocks, is a live action drama based on an award-winning novel by Rachael King. Twelve-year-old Jake is in a struggle to protect his family from danger after being drawn into a world of mythical creatures and adventure when he finds a sealskin hidden on the rocky shores of Wellington. It will screen on Prime/Sky, Neon and YouTube.

The moana is also at the centre of Black Sand Beach, an animated series for TVNZ+, based on popular graphic novels by award-winning New Zealand–born author and illustrator Richard Fairgray.

In Black Sand Beach four courageous kids unravel spine-chilling mysteries involving monsters, ghouls, and supernatural thrills.

Another book-based project supported in this round is Māui and Elvis – How I Alienated my Nan, for Prime/Sky, YouTube. The live-action drama stars best friends and neighbours Māui and Elvis, who discover an alien device and accidently blast Māui’s beloved nan with it, causing an alien hell-bent on destruction to take up residence in her body. It’s based on two books penned by Wellington author Suzanne Mains.

Tralala is a playful new animated preschool series about the relationship between a solo dad and his daughter. Tralala is a frog who lives with her father in a cosy blue house in the countryside of an imaginative world where the hills talk, and the clouds sing her to sleep every night. The series will feature new music by Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair and will screen on Prime/SKY and YouTube.

Also for Prime/Sky and cinematic release is a feature film adaptation of the beautiful and hugely popular Kiri and Lou pre-school series. Kiri and Lou Make Friends, is a prequel to the series and tells the story of how an adventurous little dinosaur (Kiri) and a kindly and lazy palorchecie (Lou) became unlikely friends.

Fabulous fables told through the medium of drag will bring some razzle dazzle to screens in Mr. Hugo’s Little Library, for TVNZ+ and RNZ. Featuring larger-than-life fables, legendary performances, and original songs, Mr Hugo’s Little Library is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first ever kids’ show by drag performers. Helmed by George Fowler (AKA Hugo Grrrl), it centres on an eccentric library custodian who has retreated into a fantasy world of books.

*The following funding decisions are all subject to raising full finance, with five involving NZSPG intended applications.

Funding details:

Red Rocks, 8 x 22’, Libertine Pictures for Prime/Sky, up to $2,250,000

Māui and Elvis – How I Alienated my Nan, 8 x 24’, Whitebait Media for Prime/Sky and YouTube, up to $2,000,000

Black Sand Beach, 13 x 22’, Amo Studios for TVNZ+, up to $1,900,000

Tralala, 52 x 7’, Filmwork for Prime/Sky and YouTube, up to $1,640,768

Mr. Hugo’s Little Library, 8 x 12’, Gibson Group for TVNZ+ and RNZ, up to $596,849

Kiri and Lou Make Friends, 1 x 60’, Filmwork for Prime/Sky, up to $200,000