Hard-hitting investigative journalism, climate change, the story behind a high-profile commune, and indigenous art are in the line-up of NZ On Air-funded factual content to inform and engage audiences in 2020.

The last NZ On Air funding round of 2019 considered a high volume of factual projects of an exceptional standard. $24m in funding was sought by 60 applications, with $9.5m worth of projects supported.

“The number of excellent applications in this round highlights the need for funding support for hard-hitting journalism, current affairs and documentary. These are genre that are under increasing pressure but are vital to healthy democracy and an informed and connected society,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

A prime time docudrama on TVNZ 1, Centrepoint will explore new information and interviews about what took place at the Albany cult over 22 years, and ask what happened to the children who grew up there?

A new documentary series for Three, The Naki Hard will chronicle the lives of a group of young people growing up in small-town New Zealand. Based in Taranaki, the series aims to show the triumphs, challenges and tragedies of growing up in heartland Aotearoa in 2020.

Voyage Back To The Future on Prime, an international co-production, will chart the journey of Māori, Pacific and Aboriginal art from ‘down under’ to the international art world as these indigenous arts enjoy a renaissance.

After a ratings hit with Patrick Gower On Weed, the popular journalist will be back on Three with two more in-depth documentaries on important issues facing New Zealand. The Check Up team of young doctors will return to TVNZ 1 with another series delivering educational and informative public health stories.

NZ On Air also sought projects looking at climate change and, in particular, with a youth focus. Supported from additional one-off funds in Budget 2019, the three successful projects are:

  • Aotearoa Without Action, an interactive documentary series outlining two possible scenarios for NZ’s future – one where climate change is unchecked and one where significant action is taken;
  • Cowland, a comprehensive overview of the local dairy industry, its impact on climate, and the moves towards sustainability;
  • Forgotten Pacific, in which Pacific people look to their ancestors for localised solutions to save their islands from climate change.

A daily news podcast focused on explaining current news stories or issues, The Detail, will return in 2020 after a successful debut season. Made possible in 2019 through the one-off RNZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund, in 2020 it is supported from the one-off 2019 Budget allocation.

Also returning in 2020 is the award-winning Newsroom Investigates. Following on from a number of high-profile investigations in 2019, the team led by Melanie Reid will continue to unearth stories that become part of the national discourse.

A podcast series to be released on the 10th anniversary of the February 22nd earthquake in Christchurch, Collapse, will examine the CTV building collapse through the eyes of those directly affected and ask what happened, what’s changed and what hasn’t? Another online documentary The Brains Trust will take a deep and personal look into the issues surrounding dementia in New Zealand.

Long-running current affairs shows Q + A With Jack Tame, Newshub Nation and The Hui will be back in 2020, providing vital exposure of political leaders and topics in an election year. The Hui will include streamed debates from the seven Māori seats.

And the innovative and educational NZ-VR Project will complete its interactive virtual reality tour of the country, exploring eight fascinating locations across the South Island and Stewart Island.

Funding details


Centrepoint, 1 x 88 mins, Warner Bros NZ for TVNZ 1, up to $1,119,682

Forgotten Pacific, 2 x 44 mins, Tikilounge Productions for Prime, up to $700,000

Voyage Back To The Future, 3 x 45 mins, Frame Up Films for Prime, up to $666,667

The Naki Hard, 4 x 44 mins, Workparty for Three, up to $556,985

Aotearoa Without Action, 7 x 5 mins + additional content, Hex Work T/A The Spinoff for The Spinoff, up to $366,013

Cowland, 6 x 22 mins, TVNZ for Re:, up to $345,650

The Brains Trust, NZME for NZ Herald 6 x 8 mins, up to $150,968

Collapse, 6 x 40 mins, Fairfax NZ for Stuff, up to $55,220


Newshub Nation 2020, 42 x 56 mins, MediaWorks TV for Three, up to $916,905

Q + A With Jack Tame 2020, 40 x 44 mins, TVNZ for TVNZ 1, up to $846,000

The Hui 2020, 40 x 28 mins + 7 x 60 mins, Great Southern Television for Three, up to $623,375

The Check Up 2, 10 x 22 mins, Great Southern Television for TVNZ 1, up to $590,102

The Detail 2020, 230 x 20 mins, Newsroom NZ for newsroom.co.nz, up to $549,777

Patrick Gower On... 2, 2 x 44 mins, Ruckus Media for Three, up to $435,000

The NZ-VR Project – South, 8 x 15 mins, Kowhai Media for NZ Geographic, up to $378,861

The Negotiators 2, 7 x 26 mins, Tawera Productions for Māori Television, up to $329,980

Newsroom Investigates 2, 6 x 15 mins, Newsroom NZ for newsroom.co.nz, up to $311,396

On The Rag 2, 8 x 20 mins, Hex Work T/A The Spinoff for The Spinoff, up to $238,529

NZ International Comedy Gala 2020, 2 x 66 mins, Augusto for TVNZ 2, up to $121,662

ANZAC Day 2020 – National Commemorative Service, 1 x 60 mins, Screentime NZ for TVNZ 1, up to $98,000

Paakiwaha 2020, 48 x 120 mins, UMA Broadcasting for Radio Waatea 603am, up to $75,000