4 July 2024

Six projects have been announced as the successful recipients of funding in the first-ever Aotearoa New Zealand Pacific Regional Media Fund that will create content for audiences across the Pacific and Aotearoa.

The six projects – five Non-Fiction and one Scripted – are the culmination of an initiative that paired Aotearoa New Zealand-based Pasifika producers with Pacific-based producers and broadcasters, to create and produce content shot in the Pacific Islands and primarily in a Pacific Island language with English subtitles.

“We expected the calibre of applications to be strong and it was difficult to choose just six, but the quality of the storytelling is really exciting for the future of all the Pasifika producers that were involved in this kaupapa,” says proud Niuean and NZ On Air project lead for the initiative, Nicole Rex.

“The fund is the first of its kind for NZ On Air, working with our Pacific Island counterparts to bring Pasifika creators in Aotearoa and the Pacific Islands together. It was all about working collaboratively and producing dynamic, digital-first content for Pasifika audiences in Aotearoa as well as abroad.”

The productions were also encouraged to allocate up to a fifth of their budget to create original music for the project by Pasifika artists.

The initiative was run by NZ On Air in collaboration with Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Limited (PCBL) which is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to foster stronger relationships between Aotearoa and the Pacific region by supporting its media sector.

“These successful projects are a wonderful cross-section of stories from across the Pacific,” says Natasha Meleisea, the CEO of PCBL. “They are captivating stories of wide interest, told by Pasifika creators in their voice and from their unique perspective. The NZ On Air fund has provided an opportunity for Pasifika producers to build on their craft and complement the work of the Pacific broadcasters in the region.”

The one Scripted project, A Dollar to Dream, is a Samoan-language musical about a young street vendor in Apia, Samoa who is determined to provide for his family. The story addresses the theme of poverty in Samoa, the lack of a welfare system, and showcases the musical styles and talents of Samoa and its youth.

Two of the documentary projects take a look at historical issues within their respective island nations. The War Below: Restoring Hope in the Solomon Islands looks at the islands’ experience post the Pearl Harbour bombing in WWII, and the aftermath of battles fought between the Allies and the Japanese in the Solomon Islands. While Paradise in Peril looks at the dying Aitutaki lagoon in the Cook Islands, which has sustained generations of Polynesian people but is under threat from rapid climate change and the effects of human habitation.

Two further documentary projects each take a look inside the family unit to explore thought-provoking topics. The Bride Price – Vanuatu examines the significance of an age-old Vanuatu kastom (custom) similar to arranged marriage. The documentary follows a couple as they go through the process, and the historical, cultural and societal issues around the tradition.

The second documentary follows five families in Niue – a father and son, a well-known Niuean actor, an opera singer, a scientist and a Niuean high school student – for the docu-series Children of Niue on what it means to be Niuean, as the island nation celebrates 50 years of self-governance.

Combining the theme of sport alongside a cultural issue or custom is Rugby Chiefs: Village Legends, which tells the story of the Tuilagi brothers’ rugby journey through the perspective of their fa’afafine sister Julie. Coming from one of the most recognised rugby families in the world, Julie has had to navigate her own challenges as a fa’fafine and devout Christian.

“It’s a wonderful initiative we were very proud to be part of and each of the stories that have come from this are so compelling,” says Cameron Harland, Chief Executive NZ On Air.

“This empowerment of Pasifika storytellers was made possible by the one-off $10m additional funding NZ On Air received in Budget '23. We are delighted both with the connections made, and the range and quality of content that will be coming for audiences."

Funding Decisions

A Dollar to Dream, 1 x30’, Cadness Street for viewing on TV3 Samoa, Pasifika TV and The CoconetTV, up to $310,000.

Children of Niue (Working Title), 5 x 15’, Kingston Productions for viewing on Pasifika TV and BCN, up to $310,000.

Paradise in Peril, 1 x 60’, SunPix for viewing on Pasifika TV, ArauraTV and TP+, up to $310,000.

Rugby Chiefs: Village Legends, 1 x 45’, Kava Bowl Media, for viewing on TV1 Samoa and Pasifika TV, up to $310,000.

The Bride Price – Vanuatu, 1 x 44’, Great Southern Television for viewing on VBTC, Pasifika TV and YouTube, up to $310,000.

The War Below: Restoring Hope in the Solomon Islands, 1 x 44’, Nine Islands Media for viewing on Pasifika TV, Telekom TV and The CoconetTV, up to $309,996.