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NZ On Air supports kids, youth content

Vinewood Animation’s Welcome to Cardboard City

New Zealand funding agency NZ On Air is backing a host of children’s shows as well as content focusing on youth voices, perspectives and issues.

The body has funded almost NZ$2m (US$1.45m) worth of children’s shows in its latest funding round, including more episodes of Welcome To Cardboard City (10×5′), the show recently picked up for international distribution by Jetpack.

Starring the vocal talents of Jeremy Wells, Mihingarangi Forbes and New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, the series is produced by Vinewood Animation.

Other projects to receive funding include Bug Hunter! Aotearoa (6×10′), produced by Gibson Group for TVNZ’s kids platform Heihei; Island of Mystery (10×9′), made by Adrenalin Group for Heihei; Kea Kids News 2021/22 (40×7′), produced by Luke Nola & Friends for Stuff; Riddle Me This! (8×4′), from A Grain of Rice Production for Heihei; and Yap Trap (15×2′), produced by Sad Patrol for Heihei.

Heihei and its games platform will also receive up to NZ$614,640 in funding from NZ On Air.

“Giving our tamariki [the Māori word for children] local content that they can relate to is critical for well-being and connection. We are focused on supporting the content that will keep them curious and entertained, but also on ensuring they can easily find and enjoy it,” said NZ On Air’s head of funding Amie Mills.

Meanwhile, NZ On Air has also greenlit 11 new youth projects to be distributed through a variety of online platforms used by young audiences.

Up to NZ$2.4m has been invested in content that will focus on youth voices, perspectives and issues in Aotearoa.

The projects were selected following a call out for scripted, factual or music content that could “cut through the online noise” and strongly connect with 15- to 24-year-olds in New Zealand.

Emphasis was placed on reaching youth audiences via the platforms they most actively engage with, in line with NZ On Air’s 2020 Where Are The Audiences findings.

NZ On Air head of funding Amie Mills said the quantity and quality of applications received was incredibly high, with applications collectively seeking over NZ$16m.

The projects include Bouncers (8×5′), from West Park & Culture Factory for YouTube, which will follow a rag-tag trio of clueless security officers and their boisterous supervisor as they struggle to keep their jobs in the temp department of a security company.

Cadness Street’s I Got You (30×1′), meanwhile, is described as a vertical comedy series for Instagram that will see a 24-year-old Pasifika woman cover her family’s bills with a side hustle of dishing out dating advice, despite having no relationship experience.

Young audiences will also be given a ‘behind the fame’ look into the lives of some of New Zealand’s most viral content creators, who will expose some of the less glamorous elements of their lifestyles in Young & Famous (31×3′), made by Manaia M for YouTube.

“What has shone through is that there is no shortage of young creatives with boundary-breaking ideas in Aotearoa [the Māori name for New Zealand]. This is an exciting opportunity for the next generation of creatives to help shape the future of the industry, as well as share with audiences an incredible variety of youth-focused stories that have never been seen before,” said Mills.

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