21 October 2021

Kiwi students like watching and learning from short, funny and homegrown audio/visual content, according to new research commissioned by NZ On Air and the Digital Media Trust.

The study, conducted by Waikato University Associate Professor Geoff Lealand, found that 95% of Aotearoa’s teachers use New Zealand-made audio/visual content in the classroom – up 4% on a similar study in 2016.

Nearly 190 teachers, predominantly from secondary schools across New Zealand, participated in the study. They say being able to watch and listen to local content helps encourage a sense of identity, pride and inclusion among students.

“The primary value of New Zealand-produced content lies in its role as a ‘reflective mirror’ on cultural identity and values, while imported content offers a ‘window on a wider world’,” Lealand says.

Teachers surveyed said students respond most positively to short-form content that uses humour and relates to their lives or cultural background. Material that portrays Aotearoa’s cultural diversity is particularly well-received, while students are less keen on content they deem to be ‘old’ or that features too many ‘experts’.

NZ On Air chief executive Cameron Harland says the survey shows that local content plays an important part in the education of young people in Aotearoa in all subject areas and will be especially useful in the new history curriculum.

“There’s no shortage of well-made and engaging Kiwi-made content available, and it’s great to see an appetite for using this content in our classrooms,” he says.

“We encourage New Zealand teachers to explore the rich diversity of audio/visual content available to help our tamariki and rangatahi learn.”

A significant number of teachers surveyed sought more resources to support Māori and Pasifika students, resources on issues of colonisation, assimilation and social change in New Zealand, and interesting perspectives on local history.

“Money must be spent where students will most benefit, to ensure they know their own stories and that perspectives for each story may vary. Media needs to be attentive to the multi-cultural nature of NZ within our bi-cultural commitment to the Treaty,” one respondent said.

The 186 respondents nominated an extensive list of material that contributed to effective teaching, including feature films, short films, documentaries, television and radio programming and web series. Ease of access was an important factor; 75% of teachers used New Zealand content showcase site NZ On Screen frequently or sometimes, thanks to its wide range of material.

Local media websites, like stuff.co.nz, nzherald.co.nz, radionz.co.nz and thespinoff.co.nz, emerged as important and useful content sources. Global video sharing or video on demand services YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo were also extensively used.

You can read the full report here.