New Zealand drama and comedy writers and creators have cause to celebrate – with exciting new projects supported in NZ On Air’s latest funding round, and some real hits in the past year.

Three intriguing new Rautaki Māori dramas have won funding this week, alongside two returning favourites and a powerful true story.

One Lane Bridge is a crime drama with a dark supernatural edge steeped in Māori spirituality. Set against the brooding landscape of Queenstown, the TVNZ series follows an ambitious young detective whose unique gift of matakite (second sight) both helps and hinders his ability to solve a murder.

In a country teeming with rugby-mad whānau, the sport is a way of life for many. A gripping, multi-cultural drama with a Māori family at its core, Head High for Three follows the emotional and highly competitive world of secondary school rugby.

Also funded for Three this round Toke is a drama special centred on three kiwifruit workers who discover a new strain of marijuana and are drawn into the high stakes world of the global cannabis industry.

The Tender Trap, a telefeature based on the true story of a middle-aged New Zealander arrested in Argentina with 5kg of cocaine in her suitcase, explores the world of romance scams targeting the lonely and vulnerable.

Acclaimed drama series Westside will be back for its final season in 2020. The story of Ted, Rita, Wolf and Cheryl continues into the 90’s, finally meeting the beginning of Outrageous Fortune.

7 Days, the much-loved panel show on Three, will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year making it the longest running comedy show in Aotearoa.

TVNZ will also have a new two-part comedy special Stand Up Aotearoa with some of New Zealand’s best and newest comedy talents flexing their funny bones before a studio audience.

All this follows on from a great year for local scripted storytelling on our screens. The top-rating NZ On Air-funded drama of the year The Bad Seed captivated an average audience of 270,400 over five consecutive nights on TVNZ 1, while Westside 4 also topped a quarter of a million average views per episode on Three.

The two winners from the comedy pilot week on Three, Golden Boy and Mean Mumsboth got off to a promising start on New Zealand screens this week, premiering with critical acclaim. And who can forget the phenomenon that was Wellington Paranormalwhich will be back on screens later this year after its lauded debut season.

“It’s clear that New Zealanders love stories that are intensely local and authentic. Off the back of such an excellent year of high-quality local drama, NZ On Air is excited to support three innovative prime time Rautaki Māori drama projects that will continue to embrace our unique stories and distinct voices,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

“We’re also pleased to be able to support the much-loved Westside for its final season, and 7 Days for its 10th, both of which have proved themselves favourites with New Zealand audiences,” she continued.

Funding Details

New

One Lane Bridge, 6 x 44’, Great Southern Television for TVNZ 1, up to $5,470,000

Head High, 6 x 44’, South Pacific Pictures for Three, up to $3,883,000

Toke, 1 x 90’, Screentime NZ for Three, up to $2,195,000

The Tender Trap, 1 x 90’, Greenstone TV for TVNZ 1, up to $2,265,588

Standup Aotearoa, 2 x 44 mins, TVNZ for TVNZ 2 , up to $74,802

Returning

Westside 6, 8 x 44’, South Pacific Pictures for Three, up to $6,495,000

7 Days 2020, 32 x 32’, MediaWorks for Three, up to $1,220,000