Asian creatives and female directors continue to be under-represented in locally made screen content, according to a recent NZ On Air study.

NZ On Air surveyed 178 publicly funded screen projects for its 2021 Diversity Report, gathering data on the ethnic diversity and gender of key personnel, and the regional spread of production companies.

NZ On Air chief executive Cameron Harland says the report, now in its sixth year, provides key insights into who is making local content.

“This 2021 snapshot reminds us that we must ensure the content we fund has adequate numbers of people from diverse backgrounds to be creatively and culturally authentic,” he says.

While the numbers of Pākehā, Māori and Pacific Peoples working in key creative roles on funded screen projects aligned with Statistics NZ population ethnicity data, Asian creatives were notably under-represented across directing, producing and writing roles.

Harland says NZ On Air is proactively working with the sector to increase diversity. In August, it announced a new development and production initiative with the Pan Asian Screen Collective (PASC) aimed at increasing pan-Asian representation across key creative roles.

“NZ On Air is committed to upholding the values and philosophies of a ‘by, for and about’ approach to funding local content,” Harland says.

“Screen content for specific audiences should be developed and created by practitioners from the communities they seek to represent.”

Women make up 61% of producing roles and account for 48.8% of writers, with men tending to take up a greater share of directors' roles in drama, documentary and children’s programming. Only 43% (42.7%) of directors identify as female, compared to 57.8% male.

The report found that Auckland continues to be the centre of New Zealand’s screen production sector. It remains the most ethnically diverse of the main centres, in terms of the key creatives surveyed.

You can read the full report here.

Diversity Report infographic