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Stories that navigate issues, communities of Aotearoa – latest for funding

Audiences will be treated to stories covering a huge range of topics in the latest announcement of funding for Non-Fiction projects from NZ On Air – from teen dads and ‘fangirls’ to choral groups gunning for world recognition.

The projects have been supported in the final funding round of the calendar year, which saw $18.7m committed to 34 Non-Fiction projects, in what became a ‘super-charged’ round. $13m had originally been earmarked for Non-Fiction projects in the round, but NZ On Air decided to add another $5m after calls from the production sector for help, amid a period of doldrums bought on by several environmental factors, including the knock-on effects of the American writers and actors strike.

NZ On Air Head of Funding Amie Mills emphasises the decision as a strategic move. “We have been speaking regularly to SPADA about the challenging conditions for the industry. It felt important to us to boost production activity quickly, and non-fiction projects typically have a faster turnaround for entering production compared to scripted projects,” she explains.

Headlining the new funded projects is The Choir Games, for Sky Open and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The World Choir Games, to be held in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2024, is a huge event attracting teams from around the world; this project will follow four of the competing choirs on their journey to the Games.

“This represents a significant international collaboration aimed at captivating both local and global viewers. What makes it particularly exciting is that it’s an arts programme, a genre that often doesn’t receive this level of local, let alone international, visibility on our screens.”

The world of fandom and fangirls comes under the spotlight in a youth-targeted series for Re: News, The Fangirl Revolution. Hosted and produced by Becky Kuek, the series investigates the cultural, social and political contexts of ‘fangirling’.

Also focused on youth is the coming-of-age docuseries for TVNZ+, Dadolescence, which taps into the minefield of teen puberty and manhood by following the journeys of four teenagers as they grapple with the responsibilities of being young dads.

Using humour to navigate trauma, We’ve Always Been Here is a documentary series that delves into the rich and vibrant multi-cultural world of queer history in Aotearoa.

For Whakaata Māori and Māori+, Te Whatu o Poutini is a one-off documentary that will explore the perilous future of one of our most precious and finite resources, pounamu or New Zealand greenstone.

The documentary Being Niuean will mark next year’s 50-year anniversary of self-governance for Niue, looking at the history of this ‘realm nation’ and the generations of Niueans that live in Aotearoa.

Two investigative podcasts have also received funding. Woofington’s is an investigative podcast series hosted by Baz Macdonald for Re: News exploring why armed police raided a luxury dog retreat in a Wellington mansion in 2019. The second podcast, 1984, will detail the landmark election of 1984, which set off a decade of social and economic upheaval.

In returning series, Dave Letele shares his highly personal story about gangs, crime and obesity as he speaks with academics and others at critical points in their own journey in Season 2 of Heavyweight With Dave Letele. While neuroscience educator Nathan Wallis once again offers whānau valuable guidance to address parenting issues in Kids Don’t Come with a Manual 2.

Audience favourite David Lomas Investigates is back for a fourth season on Three and ThreeNow, helping New Zealanders discover the truth or solve a mystery about an event that changed their lives.

And the delightful Down For Love is also back for a third season on TVNZ 2 – exploring dating and relationships through the eyes of people living with Down Syndrome or learning disabilities.

Finally, The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes returns for a second season on TVNZ 1 where we follow a new group of volunteers living with dementia and running a restaurant under the guidance of a Kiwi top chef.


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