16 April 2024

A raft of projects that take a deep observational dive into less explored topics lead the way in the latest NZ On Air Non-Fiction funding round.

Heading these projects is Hospice Heroes, for viewing on ThreeNow and Three, that goes inside one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest hospice facilities, following the staff and volunteers as they help terminally ill patients.

The series aims to destigmatise hospices and the belief they are scary and depressing by showing the real humour, compassion and energy that also exists there.

In another less explored topic, Robyn Malcolm presents documentary series Mind Menders for Sky Open, Neon and Sky Go that looks at mental health treatment options for depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD, using psychedelics – while herself undergoing a 10-week clinical trial.

These are just two of 19 Non-Fiction projects that have been supported in the final funding round of this financial year, with $8.2m committed.

With upheaval currently in the media and production ecosystem, NZ On Air was mindful of the need to ensure that audiences would still be served with great content.

"In this round, we've focused on funding fantastic project ideas while also prioritising production-ready initiatives to support the sector in these exceptionally challenging times," explains NZ On Air Head of Funding, Amie Mills.

Also in this round, for on demand and primetime linear audiences on TVNZ+ and TVNZ 1 is 400 Weddings and a Funeral, a documentary that opens the door to the Pasifika communities living in Aotearoa so all New Zealanders can learn more about their cultural practices, differences and similarities.

Meanwhile, in a feature documentary co-funded with RNZ, acclaimed producer/director Dame Gaylene Preston takes audiences on a journey through the life of another renowned artist, Dame Robin White (Ngāti Awa) in Grace. This observational documentary and art film captures Dame Robin’s life in her studio and art space, as she reconnects with her Ngāti Awa heritage in Whakatane.

He Kanohi Kitea sees hosts Te Rawhitiroa Bosch and Miriama Grace-Smith meet face-to-face with young people from the Muslim community of Aotearoa to document their story of the Christchurch Al Noor Mosque attacks and help combat negative stereotypes about the Muslim community. From the same producers, Journey of Scent follows two perfume creators who travel Aotearoa meeting different personalities and creating a new scent based on each person’s story or their whenua.

Delving into the sports arena, Riff Raff Run for Re:News and The CoconetTV follows a charismatic group of Māori and Pasifika men with diverse backgrounds and fitness levels as they train for a gruelling 48-hour running fundraiser. While documentary series Game On! explores the world of women’s sport and women’s health in Aotearoa through a group of former Silver Ferns.

For Māori+ and Whakaata Māori, Top of the South is an observational documentary that looks at the lives of a community of Māori located at the top of the South Island on land that local iwi agreed with settlers back in 1841 to reserve for the benefit of the families of the customary landowners and their descendants.

Stolen Lands – A Highlander’s Quest is a series on RNZ and YouTube exploring the unexpected alliance formed between Māori chief Te Rauparaha and Scottish settlers from Clan McDonald, as they faced a common foe in the British Crown.

For our younger audience, Buzz’s Epic Little Mission is a spin-off series from popular preschool show Toi Time that sees Buzz take tamariki on exciting and educational missions around rural Aotearoa.

Also aimed at tamariki is Music with Michal, a preschool series based on the format of creator Michal Bush’s musical content for Michal and Moe. It will be available to view on Michal’s successful YouTube Kids channel.

New podcast series include Mr Asia: A Forgotten History, a six-part series that offers a new perspective on the Mr Asia drug ring, led by the addicts who survived it, the police and the journalists who told the story, while Riches of Heaven documents the journey of a journalist as they investigate an alleged cover up of sexual abuse in the Mormon Church.

A documentary mini-series for ThreeNow and Three, P.I. Story, tracks the course of an ongoing NZ trial.

And, it’s touted as a modern-day cross-country quest for love – Bryn & Ku’s Singles Club sees award-winning comedians Brynley Stent and Kura Forrester take a road-trip around the motu looking at dating across a range of demographics.

In returning series, Breaking Silence is back for a fourth season with more personal and untold stories that reveal the many faces of domestic violence in Aotearoa, while K’Road Chronicles is also back for a fourth season looking at the causes of, and solutions to, homelessness.

Finally, Mānawatia a Matariki 2024 promises viewers a commercial-free, four-hour, multichannel telecast live from Te Waipounamu that will begin at dawn with the Hautapu Ceremony and Matariki Address.

Funding Decisions

Note: All funding commitments are based on the funding applications received and must be contracted within a specified timeframe. Funding is only released, in stages, as contractual commitments are met. Funds committed but not contracted within the specified timeframe are written back and distributed in future funding rounds.


Game On!, 5 x 44’, Pango Productions for viewing on ThreeNow and Three, up to $1,285,220

Hospice Heroes, 8 x 22’, Great Southern Television for viewing on ThreeNow and Three, up to $742,631

Grace, 1 x 85’, Gaylene Preston Productions for viewing on RNZ and Sky Arts, up to $355,518

Mind Menders, 2 x 44’, Diva Productions for viewing on Sky Open, Neon and Sky Go, up to $548,541

Buzz’s Epic Little Missions, 6 x 30’, Rogue Productions for viewing on TVNZ 2, TVNZ+ and YouTube Kids, up to $534,087

Bryn & Ku’s Singles Club, 6 x 15’, Hex Work Productions for viewing on The Spinoff and YouTube, up to $499,117

He Kanohi Kitea, 6 x 15’, Fourplait for viewing on Re:News, TVNZ+ and YouTube, up to $450,846

Top of the South, 6 x 26’, Fire Fire for viewing on Whakaata Māori, Maori+ and Flame Aotearoa, up to $429,174

Stolen Lands – A Highlanders Quest, 5 x 28’, Ten Canaries for viewing on RNZ, up to $386,030

Journey of Scent, 6 x 15’, Fourplait for viewing on RNZ, up to $364,544

Riff Raff Run, 6 x 10’, Riff Raff Run for viewing on Re:News and The CoconetTV, up to $362,605

400 Weddings and a Funeral, 1 x 44’, Great Southern Television for viewing on TVNZ+ and TVNZ 1, up to $339,248

Music with Michal, 40 x 2’, Music with Michal for viewing on YouTube Kids, up to $235,000

P.I. Story, 3 x 45’, Razor Films for viewing on ThreeNow and Three, up to $228,000

Mr Asia: A Forgotten History, 6 x 45’ podcast, Bird of Paradise Productions for NZ Herald and iHeart Radio, up to $171,455

Riches of Heaven, 6 x 35’ podcast, NZME for NZ Herald, NewstalkZB and Spotify, up to $136,092


Breaking Silence 4, 8 X 12’, Magnetic Pictures for viewing on TP+, YouTube and NZ On Screen, up to $334,969

K’Road Chronicles 4, 8 x 12’, Magnetic Pictures for viewing on TP+, YouTube and NZ On Screen, up to $331,895

Mānawatia a Matariki, 1 x 240’, Kahawai Productions for viewing on TVNZ+, TVNZ 1, Three, Prime, Whakaata Māori, RNZ, Stuff, Pasifika TV and Iwi Radio, up to $250,000