How to apply

Kia rapahoe te uru, anō he matimati nō Tangaroa ā te Toi
When the blade of the steering paddle – Te Urungi – plunges into the water, it becomes the creative fingers of Tangaroa.

Round one of the Innovation Fund is delivered through a series of nationwide events called Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa.

Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa is designed to be an empowering, mana-enhancing experience.

Te Urungi events are two day immersive, workshop-style events. You’ll explore the innovation potential of your project proposal in a supportive, collaborative environment, support by kaiāwhina and experts to explore and refine your ideas.  Manatū Taonga is able to deliver Te Urungi events both in person and online (depending on COVID restrictions).

Get notifications when registrations for Te Urungi open in your region

About Te Urungi events

Te Urungi is a new approach to arts funding, helping creative New Zealanders turn their innovative ideas into reality. Te Urungi is the steering paddle at the back of a waka hourua, a large ocean-going waka. It acts as a rudder that guides the waka with agility and stability. It is equal parts technology and art, science, and spirit.

When you think about your projects this is what we hope you are thinking: What is bold about your idea? Is it transformative? Will it make an impact for your community? This is your challenge.

Over the two days, you’ll be guided by our kaiāwhina to develop projects that improve sector sustainability and resilience, access, and participation, and take advantage of commercial opportunities. While securing funding is a key goal for participants, these events are designed so that everyone walks away with new knowledge, skills and connections.

Hear what some of the participants at the first Te Urungi event in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington had to say about their experience:

Please note:

  • Capacity at each Te Urungi event is limited to enable effective collaboration.
  • Registrations will be accepted in the order they’re received.
  • Signing up for Notifications does not guarantee you a place at Te Urungi. You also need to click and complete the Registration link you’ll be sent as soon as registrations open for an event in your region.
  • You will be added to a waitlist if you cannot gain a place at your preferred event.
  • Acknowledging the benefits diversity has for innovation, Manatū Taonga will use its best endeavours to ensure reasonable ethnic, gender and sector representation. 

More information about Te Urungi

In this section:

Te Urungi example programme

Opening evening (in-person events only, not online) – Welcome followed by speakers, performances and activities exploring the Te Urungi kaupapa.

Day One

At Te Urungi events, participants are supported by kāiawhina | facilitators, Manatū Taonga staff and experts – for example in digital, marketing, finance, or Mātauranga Māori – to explore ideas for projects that will increase sustainability, access and participation or commercial opportunities within the arts, culture, and heritage sector. Te Urungi kāiawhina guide teams through a range of activities using tools designed to help them test and refine their ideas. There are group sessions as well as opportunities for one-on-one sessions.

Day Two

Te Urungi kāiawhina continue supporting teams with their project development. 

Meeting with the evaluation panel

At Te Urungi, each project team has the opportunity for a confidential 10-minute ‘sharing session’ with the independent evaluation panel to present their project. Through these meetings and the supporting information each team provides, the panel seeks to understand how each project could help achieve the Innovation Fund’s purpose and outcomes.

Proposals for funding through the Innovation Fund are evaluated by an independent evaluation panel with knowledge and expertise in arts, culture and heritage, innovation and kaupapa Māori. The panel uses a set of evaluation criteria to guide their funding recommendations. Manatū Taonga staff conduct due diligence on projects and then Manatū Taonga’s leadership team makes the final decisions. 

Supporting information required

Teams need to submit supporting information about their project, due after they meet with the Te Urungi evaluation panel.

Seed Funding: Individuals or teams applying for seed funding will need to submit a simple Plan on a Page by the end of the Te Urungi event. We supply a template for the Plan on a Page, and our facilitators support teams to complete it during the event. Teams interested in seed funding must provide their Plan on a Page by midnight on the final day of Te Urungi.

Project Funding: Individuals or teams applying for project funding will need to submit a Project Plan. There is no fixed format for this Project Plan other than a 12-page maximum. Te Urungi facilitators will work with teams to build on any planning documents they may already have.

This Project Plan guidance outlines the sort of things the panel will expect to see covered in the plan. This guidance is also provided in the Te Urungi Event Guide. Those applying for project funding must provide their project proposals by 5pm the Friday following Te Urungi. 

Registration process

The registration date for each Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa event will be published on the Events schedule once confirmed.

Get notifications when registrations for Te Urungi open in your region.

Click on the link above to get notifications, and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s time to Register for Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa in your region. Once registrations open and you click the link to confirm attendance, you’ll receive confirmation from Eventbrite.

Please note:

  • Capacity at each Te Urungi event is limited to enable effective collaboration.
  • Registrations will be accepted in the order they’re received.
  • Signing up for Notifications does not guarantee you a place at Te Urungi. You also need to click and complete the Registration link you’ll be sent as soon as registrations open for an event in your region.
  • You will be added to a waitlist if you cannot gain a place at your preferred event. We will monitor levels of interest in Te Urungi and consider further opportunities, if required.
  • Acknowledging the benefits diversity has for innovation, Manatū Taonga will ensure reasonable ethnic, gender and sector representation. 

COVID-19 information

Manatū Taonga delivered the first Te Urungi events kanohi o te kanohi (face to face). Since then, we have also delivered very successful events online. As COVID-19 continues to be felt across our communities, Manatū Taonga will deliver either online or in person to ensure safety and wellbeing of everyone who attends. 

Why is the Innovation Fund being delivered through events?

Innovation requires us to think and work differently. Research suggests that bringing together people with different perspectives, skills, interests, mātauranga and experiences to work collaboratively is an effective way to nurture innovation.  

With Te Urungi, we have created a collaborative, supportive environment that allows all participants to fully explore the innovation potential of their ideas. Te Urungi is an adaption of other event-based models used successfully to generate innovation across government, technology, and science sectors.   

Sector input

Manatū Taonga’s decision to adopt an event-based delivery model was informed by feedback from the arts, culture, and heritage sector. We sought feedback on the Innovation Fund in September 2020, and sector representatives said they felt traditional contestable fund application processes encouraged competition as opposed to collaboration and could be a disempowering experience. They also said that more traditional processes tended to favour larger well-resourced organisations and created barriers for smaller organisations and independent practitioners.   

As part of the detailed design for Te Urungi, we sought specific feedback from a focus group of Māori practitioners working in the arts, culture and heritage sector. We have also taken advice from a range of people with experience supporting innovation in different sectors.

The needs of each regional communities and their challenges and opportunities are different. Te Urungi is flexible enough for changes to the approach to be made along the way, if required. Prior to each event, we work with mana whenua and other key stakeholders to ensure the event programme is designed to achieve the best outcomes for their regional communities. 


Updated on 19th January 2022