Tvnz 2016

Request for Proposals - TVNZ May 2020

Te Reo Tātaki, in partnership with NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission, is thrilled to announce a new prime-time scripted initiative for TVNZ 2 and OnDemand.

Published 18 May 2020 | by Elysia Gibb


Te Reo Tātaki, in partnership with NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission, is thrilled to announce a new prime-time scripted initiative for TVNZ 2 and OnDemand. 

TVNZ is the home of the most-watched Māori and Pasifika content on television and together with NZ On Air and NZFC, are excited about the opportunity to tell stories unique to Aotearoa and its place in the Pacific. 

The anthology will also provide an excellent pathway to build capacity for Māori, Pacific Island and other Tauiwi writers, producers, directors and develop talent both on and off-screen. 

We are calling for episode pitches in response to a joint RFP for a spiritual / supernatural anthology series that will screen on TVNZ 2 and TVNZ OnDemand. 

We will select eight single-episode / stand-alone stories to develop, six of which will be submitted for production funding as an anthology series that will entertain New Zealanders at scale. 

We expect at least three of the productions will be Māori and aim to have a mix of Pacific Island and other Tauiwi teams to bring a diverse flavour to the strand through a distinctly Aotearoa lens. 

What is this anthology? 

This anthology will showcase six spiritual / supernatural stories linked to specific cultures from Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, based in Aotearoa. 

Your story must: 

  • • Be grounded in or inspired by the cultural landscapes and storytelling of your team; 
  • • Have a universal theme dramatised in a specific narrative; 
  • • Understand the genre of whatever type of spiritual / supernatural story you are telling (for example it may be a horror, a supernatural comedy or thriller); 
  • • Evoke a strong emotional response; 
  • • Have a distinct style and tone; 
  • • Be a self-contained story suitable for a commercial half hour of prime-time television. 

The Duration 

The anthology project will have two Executive Producers (yet to be selected), who will guide the development of eight stories from idea through storyline and then treatment. Six of those stories will progress to script drafting and production funding application, with the support of an international creative consultant. 

The episodes will be commercial half-hours for linear broadcast. That’s 22 minutes of content, split into three sections of 6-8 minutes, separated by commercials. 


We are looking for early to mid-career practitioners – ideally with significant screen credits. Experience in screen storytelling outside of television also applies. 

At least two of the key creatives of each story must be from the cultural landscape and storytelling that inspired the narrative. 

If you gather your own team, that’s great. If you have a great story but no team, send it in and if it’s short-listed, we can assist to team you up. 

At this stage weighting will be given to the strength of the idea. 

Target Audience 

We are motivated to provide our key target demo of all people aged 18-49 with a local lens on this increasingly popular subgenre. The stories must conform to BSA standards and be appropriate to screen from 8:30pm. 


There’s plenty of scope in terms of genre, provided the story is spooky, haunting or evocative. Thriller, horror, drama, comedy, romance? Some combination of those? Some other genre that’s entertaining and emotionally powerful? 

Ideas should... 

  • • Express the anthology’s content proposition (outlined above); 
  • • Consider representing a diverse range of cultural backgrounds; 
  • • Consider representing a variety of settings (i.e. not all be urban based); 
  • • Be audacious – dare to hit nerves, tell secrets, be vulnerable, take the leap; 
  • • Pass the billboard test – is it big enough to be on billboards around the country? 
  • • Be targeted toward the desired audience we have outlined; 

The story should be about people of a specific cultural identity or cultural mix, but the storytelling should provide enough context that the story will appeal to a broad New Zealand audience. 

We’re not looking for... 

  • • Niche concepts or ideas targeting niche audiences. 
  • • Proposals that don’t meet the requirements of this RFP 
  • • Multi-platform or transmedia ideas; ideas that rely on immersive social media components etc 
  • • Incomplete stories, or ‘pilots in disguise’ 


The budget for each episode will be in the vicinity of $500,000. We’re looking for top-of-the-line production value that justifies that level of expense. 

Your Tono 

Please send our TVNZ cover sheet (provided) outlining your idea. We will accept up to two additional pages in your pitch packet - one page for the narrative itself, another page for the vision and team. We are happy to accept up to three proposals from the same content creators / production team. 

To limit the expectation for you to work on spec, we’re keeping this initial step as simple and easy as possible. If you can’t convey your whole story in one page, with clarity of intent and emotion, we’d suggest you need to do more drilling down to better understand and communicate your story. 

The Process 

There are three tranches of development – storyline, treatment, script & proposal. 

We’re looking for the strongest ideas. We’ll assess all the props and select eight projects to develop. If any of those eight stories don’t have teams, we can help match-make. 

If you are one of the eight pitches selected, you will receive $1000 to write a storyline for your episode. You will also collaborate with the other teams to devise bookends and/or thematic elements to connect the stories together. 

In the second tranche of development, each team will get another $2000 to write full treatments including notes on vision and production elements, and a cultural responsibility strategy. 

From those eight treatments, we’ll select six projects to progress to the third tranche of development - script drafting, and treatment. Each of the six teams will receive $13,000 at this final development stage. 

At this stage we’ll host a two-day story workshop with an international creative consultant. 

The remaining six teams will produce full teleplays and support materials, and then we’ll all create a killer production proposal for a NZ On Air funding round. For any episodes with significant reo Māori content, we will look to partner with Te Māngai Pāho to support the tono in their receptive round (30-70%). 

Please note that there is not a lot of wiggle room in the timeline from pitch to script, so please consider the level of commitment required before you apply. Missing deadlines could impact on the other teams and our ability to be ready with a production funding application in October. 

Timings and Deadlines Thursday 14 May 

RFP is released 

Monday 8 June 

Two-page pitch deadline 

Monday 22 June 

Tranche 1: Eight stories selected, commence story-lining. 

Monday 20 July 

Story-lining deadline 

Monday 3 August 

Tranche 2: Notes on storylines, commence treatments 

Monday 24 August 

Polished storyline, treatment and cultural responsibility strategy due 

Monday 14 September 

Tranche 3: Six stories selected, commence scripts and wānanga 

Thursday 15 October 

NZ On Air production funding deadline * 

15 January 2021 

TMP receptive round deadline 

They will accept up to three pitches from a team. For each of the pitches, you will need to fill out an application cover sheet and demographics information sheet, and return them with your optional 2-page pitch to  (Obtain these by emailing one of the TVNZ Commissiioning Team) They must be returned by the deadline of Monday 8 June at 4pm.  Pitches submitted without the required cover and information sheets will not be considered.

if you have any questions please contact a member of the TVNZ Commissioning team.

Summer Wharekawa – Māori & Pasifika Commissioner 

Britta Hawkins – Shortland Street Commissioner 

Steve Barr – Scripted Comedy & Drama Commissioner 

Nevak Rogers – GM Local Content

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