A note from the CEO

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Jane Wrightson, CEO

2019 is off to a roaring start! It's always exciting when we see new content being delivered to appreciative audiences - we hope you are all enjoying these projects as much as we are. A few to mention:

  • Fresh Eggs on TVNZ 2 has had excellent consolidated ratings and On Demand streams and continues to push dark comedy boundaries
  • The response on social media to Jessica's Tree on nzherald.co.nz - a story of suicide and hope has been uplifting and is already credited with saving a life
  • And we are thrilled for Wellington band Drax Project, who have hit the Top 40 Pop Radio Billboard chart in the US with a new version of Woke Up Late - we believe this is the first time by an NZ act since Lorde.

A highlight for me and my team has been the successful Factual summit held this week in Auckland with factual content creators and platforms. It was an intense day of thinking and talking, and we really appreciated the open dialogue and open minds. Days like these are a great reminder of the incredibly collegial industry we work in and how much we can achieve collaboratively. Thank you to everyone who gave their time to share their ideas.

We plan to bring together a summary of the themes and key points from the day and publish this in a couple of weeks on our website. We will then use this information to draft a Factual roadmap. See also the invitation from Doc Edge in this newsletter to continue the korero on documentary.

I also want to thank those people who responded to our stakeholder survey last year, conducted by Colmar Brunton. It was the first time we'd done it this way, with a larger sample size and an online survey, so we were thrilled that 99 respondents took the time to feed back to us. We are publishing the survey report today and you can read more later in this newsletter.

March was a small production funding round, due to limited funds available. You can read more about the greenlit projects under the NZ Media Fund update. Please be assured we have put our best feet forward in making the case for increased funding, so that together we can all make more great public media content for New Zealanders.

Ngā mihi nui


NZ Media Fund update

Our first round for 2019 was focused on the funding of Scripted and Factual interactive content for our children's platform HEIHEI, as well as our fifth year of the Canada-New Zealand Digital Media Fund (CNZDMF).

The scope of our March round was reduced as we approach the end of the financial year, so general production projects were not eligible to apply unless they were time-sensitive.

In total we received 37 applications for production funding and we're pleased to be able to support 11 projects - including fun and stimulating interactive content for our tamariki. A full list of content funded can be found at the end of this newsletter.

The range of new interactive content coming to HEIHEI had us feeling like giddy kids again, with creative and cultural games such as I-Spy (a Where's Wally-style game featuring gorgeous illustrated New Zealand scenes, objects and animals) and Count My Cube (an educational puzzle game set in a zero-gravity 3-D world) making us very happy for and only slightly jealous of the tamariki who get to enjoy such world-class games!

Canada-NZ Digital Media Fund

We're thrilled to be teaming up with the Canada Media Fund again - this time to create awesome interactive kids content that transcends borders.

Through the Canada-New Zealand Digital Media Fund (CNZDMF) we will support two new projects for tamariki in both New Zealand and Canada: Bug Hunter! a web series and game which follows an entomologist as she compares and contrasts the insects of NZ and Canada and encourages children to explore and learn about bugs. And Kids Cookout, a webseries and game which will explore rich multicultural culinary traditions via backyard cookouts.

The CNZDMF is now in it's fifth year, and has successfully developed stimulating co-productions between industry professionals in both countries to create thought-provoking digital content such as I Spy: With My Five Eyes, Spurred On: New Zealand and Canada at Passchendaele and Nuclear Dissent.

What's left?

The below graph indicates the expenditure to date.

% expenditure to date

Current RFP's and the May round

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May round

May is our final round of the financial year.


  • We have published detailed information on our call for content that will commemorate Tuia Encounters 250 (Tuia 250) – around $1.5m is available - read May 2019 Information for applicants for details.
  • We are not seeking general Factual production applications this round.


  • There is approximately $2.2m available for general Scripted production. Taking into consideration the level of funding available and the type of projects already funded in the current financial year we are prioritising projects that fit within the Sustainable and Newer Storyteller strands of our Scripted Roadmap. We will prioritise projects already in development that are ready to seek production funding.
  • We will not have the funds to support any more premier drama production until July 2019.


  • This round is for annual submissions from funded platforms for operating funds for the 2019/20 year.


We have one RFP open at the moment. This is the NZ On Air / NZ Film Commission / Script To Screen joint Raupapa Whakaari Funding: Dramas to the world - which seeks to develop high-end adult drama series that will appeal to the international market as well as New Zealand audiences.

Deadline extended

Based on industry feedback NZ On Air, the NZ Film Commission and Script to Screen have decided to extend the deadline for applications for Raupapa Whakaari by two weeks.

New deadline for Raupapa Whakaari: Monday April 1, 9am.

Due to the extension, successful applicant teams will now be notified on or before Monday May 6. Those teams will need to be available to participate in the Series Drama Lab 10-15 June.

Read the full guidelines for Raupapa Whakaari Funding: Dramas to the world here.

Funding for Pasifika and Asian creatives

Asia-Pacific Feature-Length Development

It's a great time to be a Pasifika or Asian media creative!

We've recently announced the funding recipients from the call by NZ On Air and the NZFC for Asian and Pacific projects to be developed for TVNZ's Sunday drama slot.

We're thrilled to support the development of four projects. Two are Pacific projects - Noue: Daughter of the Mau from Blueskin Films, and Overstayer: The Story of the Dawn Raids from Tikilounge Productions. Two are Asian NZ stories - Princess of Chaos from Flat3 Productions and The Only Son from Screentime NZ.

We received 44 applications in total.

New Music Pasifika

The first music round we have held specifically for Pacific music received 51 applications, with the panel selecting 14 exciting new songs. The funding for this project was from the extra $4 million received as a one-off allocation in Budget 2018. The songs created will ensure talented Pasifika artists have a chance to shine and will increase the amount of professionally produced Pasifika popular music available.

Asian and Pacific Storytelling Projects

We received 33 applications for funding to extend the range of Pacific and Asian stories available. We are in the process of finalising eight shortlisted projects. Watch out for an announcement early next week.

This RFP is supported from the one‐off allocation of additional funding in Budget 2018 to support the production of diverse local content for under‐served audiences.

Music update

Taite Music Prize 2019

The 10 finalists for the 2019 Taite Music Prize

Taite Music Prize

Congratulations to the 10 finalists for the 2019 Taite Music Prize recently announced. We have been proud to support the Taite Prize since it began 10 years ago.

The field of entries this year was incredibly strong and a testament to how much incredible NZ music has been released recently.

So hats off to the artists who made the top 10 - Alien Weaponry, Avantdale Bowling Club, Jonathan Bree, Julia Deans, Marlon Williams, Mel Parsons, Tami Neilson, The Beths, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Wax Chattels. We’re also delighted that our Music funding assisted each of these releases and it’s great to see all of these artists acknowledged in this way.

Homegrown 2019

Homegrown, March 23rd 2019

Homegrown activity in Wellington

The mighty Homegrown festival takes over the Wellington waterfront on Saturday March 23 with yet another record audience ready to sample a huge range of all-NZ music acts.

This year NZ On Air has added a day of artist/industry seminars to the package on Friday 22 March at The Loft above Mac’s Brewbar on the waterfront. We’re holding three separate seminars - involving YouTube Music, NZ commercial radio, and Spotify. These are free to attend and targeted at musicians and managers keen to learn insights, tips and tricks about how to get your music out there and noticed online and on-air.

For further information or to register interest email jeff@nzonair.govt.nz

Access Managers Hui

Access Managers Hui

On the 28th of February we brought together 12 Access Radio Managers from stations across New Zealand to attend our Access Managers Hui.

The day was framed by AUT's Dr Matt Mollgaard, who took the Managers through the recent Access Sector review in close detail, with emphasis on the future of Access Media, and the content areas in which the stations need to expand.

It was also a highlight to have the expertise of representatives from Te Māngai Pāho and the Ministry for Women in the room as they initiated great kōrero around creating programming by, for and about women and Māori.

It was a fantastic day, full of genuine warmth and passion for public media, which couldn't have been possible without the hard mahi of our own Funding Advisor Nicole. Thank you to all who attended.

Stakeholder Survey

In November last year Colmar Brunton surveyed a sample of content creators, platform representatives and other stakeholders to find out what you think of what we do. We carry out Stakeholder research regularly to ensure we understand your needs, and to give you a chance to feedback to us.

While we have done this type of research regularly over the years, we decided it was important to widen the sample of people surveyed, as we have widened the range of businesses and individuals we now engage with.

Thank you to everyone who took part. You can read the report below.

We are really pleased with the positive endorsement of our mahi. The results show high levels of trust in NZ on Air and satisfaction with your dealings with our staff. 71% of you would advocate for NZ On Air, and 87% feel we fulfil our purpose.

But we can always do better - we have discussed the key points among the Senior Leadership Team and with our Board. Watch out for updates on tweaks and improvements to how we do things as a result.

A few things we think we can get straight on to:

  • Better explaining what happens to applications for funding - what our internal processes are and how to put in your best application
  • Consider changes to the round structure - possibly to reduce from five rounds to four
  • Use more external assessors where appropriate (in particular to ensure diverse voices are involved in selecting projects for diverse audiences)

There will be more - we are an organisation that is constantly evolving and we are listening!

Doc Edge Forum

After the productive korero at the NZ On Air Factual summit on Monday in Auckland Doc Edge thought it would be an opportune time to let you all know that the annual documentary industry conference, the Doc Edge Forum, is coming up in late May, early June.

NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan and NZ On Air Head of Funding Amie Mills will be giving a keynote speech and the organisers will also be welcoming a range of international funding agencies, broadcasters, distributors and sales agents.

The Doc Edge Forum will be the perfect opportunity for the industry to come together, discuss the current issues in the documentary sector and to follow up on the common desire expressed at the NZ On Air hui on getting a more united, documentary industry voice.

The Forum will be held at the Ellen Melville Centre in Auckland and the full programme will be announced in mid-April. Like every year, the head of each industry guild receives a complimentary Forum Pass and discount registration is available for all guild members.

Any questions please contact Rufus Richardson at Doc Edge.

Meet the team

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Lisa Han, Assistant Accountant

Lisa has one of the most important jobs at NZ On Air - she makes sure people get paid!

Lisa is one of our whizz-bang assistant accountants, who daily assesses and processes an extraordinary number of production reports and budgets.

When she's not at work Lisa enjoys going for long walks, hanging out with her gorgeous sausage dog - sorry, miniature dachshund - and baking delicious treats for our very grateful workplace.

If you're keen to learn more about Lisa and the rest of the team here and NZ On Air, check us out on our Meet The Team page.

Funding decisions

Scripted and Factual


I Spy, Resn for HEIHEI, up to $131,200 Kids race against the clock to find objects and animals within lively illustrated NZ scenes.

Tahi Two, Adrenalin Group for HEIHEI, up to $129,808 A memory game that helps to expand vocabulary and knowledge.

Hoko Helper, Vanishing Point Studio for HEIHEI, up to $123,000 A meal/shopping game that teaches users financial literacy and healthy food choices.

Riddle + Squizz Eye Spies Learning Game, Ready Steady Studio for HEIHEI, up to $149,962 A suite of educational toy-like interactions and activities with a focus on exploration and experimentation.

Count My Cube, Metia Interactive for HEIHEI, up to $147,500 An educational puzzle game set in a zero-gravity 3D cubic world..

Soundboard, Resn for HEIHEI, up to $132,020 A musical toy featuring local artists that allows children to experiment with music and beat creation.

Flying Kiwis, Adrenalin Group for HEIHEI, up to $149,331 An arcade game featuring a Kiwi who has to jump and run from a predator.

Canada NZ Digital Media Fund

Bug Hunter!, 12 x 8 mins + AR app + online game, The Gibson Group for HEIHEI, up to $220,000 An entomologist compares insects in NZ and Canada and encourages children to explore the bug world around them.

Kids Cookout, 8 x 7 mins + game and recipe videos, CAB Productions for HEIHEI, up to $180,000 Children learn about diverse cultures through their foods and backyard cookouts.


Easter 2019, 12 x 54 mins, Christian Broadcasting Association for Newstalk ZB, up to $24,108. A mix of thoughtful Easter-focused commentary, interviews, talk back, creative production and guests from around NZ.

Real Life With John Cowan 2019, 48 x 22 mins, Christian Broadcasting Association for Newstalk ZB, up to $37,094. A weekly chat show, featuring high-profile guests talking about their life, upbringing, passions and their view of the world.


New Music Projects

ALAE, Commotion, up to $30,000

Cymbol, Delete, up to $30,000

Fazerdaze, Lester Records, up to $30,000

Marlon Williams, Heartstop Music, up to $30,000

Purple Pilgrims, Flying Nun Records, up to $19,200

Tami Neilson, Monkey Music, up to $22,000

Yoko-Zuna, Loop Media, up to $30,000

Yumi Zouma, Flying Out, up to $29,880

New Music Pasifika - (up to $8,000)

Diggy Dupe, Ci

Disciple Pati, The Boy Who Cried Woman

Emily Muli, No More

La Coco, Back When

Lani Alo, Alo I Ou Faiva

Mikey Mayz, Wild People

Queen Shirl'e, Queens Rise Up

Raze ft Poetik, Another Lover

Sheperd's Reign, Legend

Snare, Fika Gumz

Swiss ft DJ Noiz & JSQZE, Island Kings

Tazman Jack, Eyes Closed

Tommy Nee, Criminal Minds

Truce, Faded

Industry Development

NZ Radio Awards 2019, Radio Broadcasters Association, up to $7,500

Pacific Music Awards 2019, Pacific Music Awards Trust, up to $24,000

Taite Music Prize 2019, Independent Music NZ, up to $10,000

Māoriland Film Festival 2019, Māoriland Charitable Trust, up to $1,500

Pasifika & Asian Newer Storytellers: Script Lab, Script To Screen, up to $42,996

Songhubs Auckland 2019, APRA, up to $25,000