Local audiences can expect lots of light relief heading to their screens, with new and returning comedies featuring strongly in the latest Scripted content to be greenlit from NZ On Air’s final funding round of 2021.

Head of Funding Amie Mills said it was the least the agency could do after a fairly grim year for many.

“The funded slate from this round includes exciting new Scripted comedies, returning series that audiences love, stories that celebrate our rainbow community, and projects that will showcase the incredible talent and language of this country on a local and international stage.”

Created and written by Chris Parker and Alice Snedden, Double Parked is a comedy series for Three featuring a young lesbian couple who both end up pregnant following a ‘botched’ home insemination job. Also joining Three’s comedy line up is Homebound 3.0 from up-and-coming writer Sam Wang, centered around a struggling 30-something unpublished writer forced to move back home and deal with the disappointment of his Chinese parents.

In addition, four comedy events will play out across multiple nights on Three. The Comedy Gala, The Great Comedy Debate, Last Laughs and a special live episode of 7 Days on linear and on demand will showcase a range of established comedians and shine a spotlight on emerging talent.

New on Māori Television will be a Wellington-based coming-of-age comedy Not Even, in which five young friends and flatmates grapple with what it means to be Māori in the 2020s. Also coming to Prime and Māori Television is the second season of Rūrangi, an award-winning story of a transgender activist who returns to a remote, politically divided dairy community in the hope of reconnecting with his father. The first series has been picked up for distribution on Hulu in the USA, as well as international sales to Australia, the UK and France.

Two iconic Disney films will be reimagined and repurposed in te reo Māori for audiences in Aotearoa in a groundbreaking inter-agency, co-funded project. The Lion King and Frozen will be available free-to-air on Māori Television, in theatres and online on Disney +, and will offer extensive talent development in areas of te reo, music composition, Māori screen performance, production and post-production. The productions will also create original waiata for each film’s soundtrack.

Ka Whawhai Tonu – Struggle Without End is a new feature film to screen on Māori Television. Set in the 1860's on the eve of The Battle of Ōrākau two battle-torn teens, Haki and Kōpū, form an unlikely bond, sharing a desire to not just survive, but to live beyond the carnage of war.

Educators will return for a third season of improvised comedy set in a secondary school amongst a dysfunctional and childish group of teachers. It screens on air and online with TVNZ.

NZ On Air has also contributed additional funding of $463,325 via Te Puna Kairangi (The Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund) to secure two new premium dramas and a high-end Factual series for local screens.

Far North is a drama for Three based on the true story of how the most comically inept gang to ever join forces got half a billion dollars’ worth of meth to New Zealand shores – and nearly to market. The Gone, for TVNZ 1 is the story of an Irish couple’s disappearance from a small North Island town, and the quest by an Irish detective and a Kiwi cop to find them. And Black Coast Vanishings is a documentary series for Three about the mysterious disappearance of six people in a small surf town.

Read more about Te Puna Kairangi Fund content funded in the latest round here.

Funding details:

Rūrangi 2, 5 x 22 mins, Autonomouse for Prime and Māori Television, up to $1,725,000

Double Parked, 8 x 22 mins, Kevin and Co for Three, up to $1,400,970

Homebound 3.0, 8 x 22 mins, Kevin and Co for Three, up to $1,380,153

Not Even, 6 x 23 mins, Miss Conception Films for Prime and Māori Television, up to $1,130,770

Educators 3, 6 x 22 mins, South Pacific Pictures for TVNZ OnDemand and TVNZ 2, up to $1,010,847

Feature Animation Series - Lion King and Frozen Reo Māori, 1 x 118 + 1 x 102 mins, Matewa Media for Māori Television, up to $500,000

Comedy Festival Partnership 2022, 5 x 44 min, Three for Three, up to $230,000

Ka Whawhai Tonu - Struggle Without End, 1 x 90 mins, Hikoi NZ for Māori Television, up to $200,000