2 December 2022

Stories of inspiration and overcoming the odds, plus observational and investigative projects that tackle complex societal issues are among the $5.4m of successful Factual projects announced by NZ On Air.

This latest round includes three podcast series, which explore topics such as obesity and neurodiversity in Aotearoa, while a number of screen projects provide inspirational and uplifting stories of achievement in the face of adversity.

NZ On Air Head of Funding, Amie Mills, says the final round of the calendar year contains a wide range of storytelling about complex issues.

“These projects don’t shy away from telling the types of stories and delving into subjects that can be heart-rending but also hugely inspiring, thought-provoking and honest,” says Mills. “They are stories about who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going. They traverse the tragic to the triumphant and we hope local audiences connect with them.”

The podcast series are: Chewing The Fat for NZME, looking into the obesity epidemic in Aotearoa; No Such Thing As Normal, a series fronted by Sonia Gray, exploring neurodiversity and how a lack of understanding of neuro-divergent conditions can lead to lifelong consequences for our tamariki; and Dear Jane for The Spinoff, uncovering sexual grooming through the telling of one woman’s lived experience.

In an inspiring story of overcoming the odds, former professional boxer David Letele (the Brown Buttabean) is the subject of Heavyweight With Dave Letele for TVNZ 2 tracing his highly personal story.

Breaking The Ice Ceiling to be aired on Stuff follows Lydia Bradey (ONZM), the first woman to summit Mt Everest without oxygen, as she mentors former addict Holly Beckham on her mission to be the first wahine Māori to scale Everest.

Staying with the theme of sporting inspiration, Wheel Blacks: Bodies On The Line is a documentary series for Prime centred around the Wheel Blacks’ quest to qualify for the 2024 Paris Paralympics, while Family, Faith and Footy for TVNZ 1 and TVNZ+ looks at the history of Pasifika rugby players in the lead-up to the men’s Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Three documentary projects look for answers to hefty societal questions; The Food Crisis for Prime looks into why one in seven Kiwi kids go hungry yet our farms produce enough food to feed 30 million people. Documentary maker Bryan Bruce asks: ‘what can we do about the food crisis and what happens if we do nothing?’

Into the Valley, a series for ThreeNow aims to ignite a national conversation around our history, race relations and identity by looking into the 2007 government raids in remote Te Urewera on Tūhoe. And 100 Days Free looks into why one in four prisoners return to prison within the first 100 days of freedom. The series will follow four prisoners after their release from prison, their reunion with friends and family, and the process of rebuilding their lives.

New TV series, Shepherdess, produced in conjunction with the rural women’s publication of the same name, will celebrate women leading colourful and cultured lives in rural and regional Aotearoa. The Turning Point for RNZ is a series aimed at a younger adult audience and follows a new generation of kaitiaki who take on the challenge of protecting our natural environment.

The topic of sexuality and self-discovery is addressed in Red Light Boys, which follows the day-to-day lives of four sexually diverse cis-male and transgender male sex workers aged 18-25 and a more mature sex worker who’s been in the industry from age 14.

Footage from an exclusive untold video diary is the basis for Marauders, a series for RNZ that follows Fat Freddy’s Drop on their 2003 European tour – a tour that paved the way for their game-changing album Based On A True Story and subsequent rise in worldwide popularity.

Audience favourite Patrick Gower returns with two further documentaries in the Patrick Gower: On series. Queer and Here 2 is also back for another season on Whakaata Māori, along with a further Documentary Anthology 2 series of documentaries about life in Aotearoa, from The Spinoff.

Funding Details:

Note: Projects intended for the new ANZPM (TVNZ and RNZ platforms) are funded up to end of June 2023.


Wheel Blacks: Bodies On The Line, 3 x 45 mins, Sweet Productions for Prime, up to $631,838. A documentary series on the inspirational story of the Wheel Blacks, as they strive for a spot at the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

Family, Faith And Footy, 2 x 44 mins, Great Southern Television for TVNZ 1 and TVNZ+, up to $619,613. A documentary series on the history of Pasifika rugby players in the build-up to the men’s Rugby World Cup 2023 – examining what defines them: family, faith and footy.

Shepherdess, 6 x 22 mins, Overactive Imagination for Prime, up to $506,700. A series celebrating women leading colourful, cultured lives in provincial Aotearoa.

Into The Valley, 4 x 22 mins, Wheke Group for ThreeNow, up to $358,159. A series that aims to unmask the truth behind the 2007 government raids in remote Te Urewera on Tūhoe.

Red Light Boys, 5 x 15 mins, Two Heads for Re:, up to $290,625. A series investigating the day-to-day lives of four sexually-diverse 18–25-year-old cis-male and transgender male sex workers. Interwoven with the perspective of a mature sex worker who began his journey at age 14.

The Turning Point, 6 x 12 mins, Ocular for RNZ, up to $268,431. A new generation of kaitiaki across Aotearoa take on the challenge of protecting our natural environment, paving the way to a more hopeful future.

Marauders, 18 x 10 mins, Transmit for RNZ, up to $251,000. An exclusive untold video diary capturing the 2003 debut European tour for Fat Freddy’s Drop. A compelling and entertaining ‘blast from the past’, coinciding with the tour’s 20th anniversary in 2023.

Heavyweight With Dave Letele, 1 x 44 mins, Heavyweight Media for TVNZ 2, up to $245,942. Dave Letele (Ngāti Maniapoto/Samoa) shares his highly personal story and speaks with academics and others, providing an impactful, multi-faceted perspective on many complex issues.

The Food Crisis, 1 x 45 mins, Red Sky Film & Television for Prime, up to $214,470. Award-winning documentary maker Bryan Bruce investigates why food is becoming so expensive, what we could do about it and what will happen if we do nothing.

Breaking The Ice Ceiling, 4 x 10 mins, Greenstone TV for Stuff, up to $185,318. This project covers Lydia Bradey (ONZM), the first woman to summit Everest without oxygen, mentoring Holly Beckham, a survivor of addiction, on her mission to be the first Māori wahine to scale Everest.

100 Days Free, 4 x 10 mins, 412 Films for NZME, up to $161,300. A mostly observational documentary that follows four prisoners during their first 100 days out of prison, their reunions with friends and family, and their journey as they start to rebuild their lives.

Dear Jane, 5 x 25 mins, The Spinoff for The Spinoff, up to $157,994. A podcast series exploring the topic of sexual grooming through an in-depth retelling of one woman’s story.

Chewing The Fat, 10 x 25 mins, Alexandra Borissenko for NZME, up to $85,980. A podcast series that delves into the 'obesity epidemic' in Aotearoa; its history, social and political forces, misconceptions, science, social and cultural impact, economics - and what’s being done about it.

No Such Thing As Normal, 10 x 30 mins, Team Uniform for NZME, up to $43,600. A podcast series, fronted by Sonia Gray, bringing together Sonia’s personal experiences and interviews with industry experts around the topic of neurodevelopmental conditions.


Patrick Gower: On, 2 x 45 mins, Ruckus Media for Three, up to $490,914. Two more documentaries in the Patrick Gower: On series.

Documentary Anthology 2, Hex Work Productions for The Spinoff, up to $429,961. Each documentary is a standalone film about life in Aotearoa.

Queer And Here 2, 6 x 26 mins, Jack Media for Whakaata Māori, up to $354,697. A fresh and provocative series presented by Aniwa Whaiapu Koloamatangi that takes viewers on a journey of discovery amongst the queer community in NZ and at the World Pride Festival in Sydney.

ANZAC 2023, 100 mins, Screentime NZ Limited for TVNZ 1, up to $138,316. Coverage of the Dawn Service at Pukeahu War Memorial Park, followed by the National Commemorative Service.