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Paranormal activity to return in 2019, alongside ponies, history and colonial combat

Acclaimed comedy-horror mockumentary series Wellington Paranormal will return to screens next year alongside a new series based on Stacy Gregg’s Pony Club books, and a range of indigenous and inclusive content.

Wellington Paranormal, the What We Do In The Shadows spinoff produced by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement and featuring early childhood teacher and breakout star Karen O’Leary alongside the equally droll Mike Minogue as deadpan police investigators of the demonic and bizarre, was a hit with audiences and critics in its first run on TVNZ 2 this year.

Thirteen new episodes of the X-Files-meets-Police 10-7 sendup have been funded by NZ On Screen through the NZ Documentary Board for TVNZ 2 and OnDemand, with up to $5,093,485 promised towards its budget.

Producer Jemaine Clement on set with  Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary. Photo from NZ On Screen

Another new approach to comedy uses wrestling to take an alternative look at New Zealand’s colonial past. Ten 10-minute episodes of Colonial Combat have received $382,500 from NZ On Screen in a co-funded venture with Te Māngai Pāho, supported as a Rautaki Māori series.

A second series from the round of Rautaki Māori funding that supports Māori filmmakers to tell distinctive stories in unique voices is Undertow, created from four plays performed and filmed at Te Papa in 2017. The eight 26-minute episode series, which screen on Māori Television, traverses major historical moments in New Zealand including the New Zealand Wars, the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and our involvement in the two World Wars. The eight 26-minute episodes from Awa Films received up to $83,850.

A new drama series for a family/youth audience will bring the international best-selling book series Pony Club Secrets to the screen in a 13-episode series. Mystic is based on the work of NZ author Stacey Gregg, and is an international co-production with the support of the Screen Production Grant by Libertine Pictures for TVNZ 2 and HEIHEI, and has been funded up to $1,000,000.

The TVNZ New Blood initiative to support new storytellers has committed up to $83,850 towards Life Is Easy, a body-swap comedy/drama series aimed at millennials and exploring ideas of race, privilege and sexuality. Eight 15-minute episodes feature an Asian female and gay male lead characters.