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$500k funding for Maori web series

Thursday 27 Mar 2014 10:41 a.m.

New Zealand on Air has announced $500,000 in funding for Maori web series – of which two will be fully in Te Reo.

It's a joint venture between NZ on Air and Te Mangai Paho, which normally funds Maori TV, radio and music.

NZ on Air digital strategist Brenda Leeuwenberg says up to five series will be made, each with between six and 10 episodes from two to seven minutes in length.

"[It's] a way to discover and encourage Maori storytellers and Maori stories, and get them out to a wider audience," she said on Firstline this morning.

NZ on Air says the initiative will allow stories to be told that would struggle to get airtime on broadcast TV.

"Often these are things that wouldn't get past the broadcaster's filter, if you like – they wouldn't make it onto television as an idea, or they're not quite right for whatever show is being programmed. Online gives an opportunity for these new and different ideas and stories to make their way to the public."

But creators can get commercial interest in their shows, they're welcome to take the money, says Ms Leeuwenberg.

"We're providing solely the $500,000; if they're able to get funding from other sources, then that's wonderful, but that's not a requirement."

And if a TV network wants to screen them, that's fine too.

"They are created specifically for the web – so the way that they put their episodes together, the way that they tell their stories and the way that they construct everything is not really suited so well to television," says Ms Leeuwenberg.

"But sometimes they turn up on television – Auckland Daze is a great example of a web series that started online that's moved into the television world."

Though the focus will be on stories by and for Maori, Ms Leeuwenberg says if they're good enough, they'll also appeal to an international audience.

"A good story can go anywhere. It'll be online, so anybody can access it from anywhere in the world… the format might be picked up and adapted for another country or somebody might want to buy it for a festival or something like that.

"But essentially the story goes online, the material that NZ on Air funds is available for free to New Zealanders and if anybody else wants can exploit it or access it, then that's great."

Applications for funding can be made through the NZ on Air and Te Mangai Paho websites, and close on May 30.

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