Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa Fund recipients

The Innovation Fund supports innovative projects that improve the sustainability and resilience of the sector, provide commercial opportunities, and improve access and participation. The first phase of support from the Innovation Fund is being delivered through a nationwide events series, Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa. 

There are two funding streams available to participants in the Te Urungi events: seed funding and project funding.  

  • Seed funding provides up to $20,000 to enable a team to progress their idea to a point that they are ready to apply for further funding. Seed funding could be used to engage specific expertise, for example a lawyer, a designer, or technical expert. It could also be used to support the people in the team to take the time to develop their project.  
  • In terms of project funding, the amount available will depend on the individual project and its potential reach and impact.  

On this page:

Te Urungi funding recipients by event

Allocation of the funding awarded from the first five Te Tahua Āki Auahatanga Cultural Sector Innovation Fund Te Urungi events has been confirmed. The funding will reach 32 groups who took part in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Porirua and online events, and 33 groups who took part in the Ōtautahi, Ōtepoti and Murihiku events. Funding awarded to date totals $9.18 million.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Porirua event

Project funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Atuatanga To develop 'Atuatanga', an interactive virtual reality gaming experience that will use te Reo Māori and mātauranga Māori to engage players through challenges as they navigate through an ancient world restoring the taiao for future generations  $585,000
Narrative Muse To support the development of Narrative Muse, a digital platform to help Aotearoa audiences access books, movies and television content that reflects intersectionality and gender diversity $500,000
Rascality To develop entertaining, interactive reading resources by Aotearoa writers for children/tamariki $300,000
TOTAL   $1,385,000

Seed funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Andy Hanara Development of a business case for heritage waka tangata tours on Porirua harbour $20,000
Creative Capital Arts Group To work with national fringe festivals to investigate the development of a collaborative network that strengthens the fringe ecosystem and brings independent and emerging artists work to a wider audience. The project also seeks to increase audience access and participation $20,000
Goldfish Creative To undertake a feasibility study for an alternate arts funding model that includes investigating the use of distributed ledger technology that improves sustainability and resilience for independent artists in Aotearoa $20,000
Indigi.Nz - Alpha State Testing and documenting the processes for digitising mātauranga Māori for use in new media settings and testing users’ interaction with this content. This project will improve preservation, protection, and revitalisation of mātauranga Māori $20,000
Jamn2020 Ltd To develop a suite of online resources that will be used to support whānau within the welfare and penal system to reconnect with their culture, heritage and the arts. Resources will also be used to support future applications for sustainable funding $20,000
Kia Ora 4 [email protected] Production To develop a pilot wānanga toi to help Ngāti Toa rangatahi to develop their musical skills $20,000
Living Heritage To work with heritage partners and complete a business case for ‘Living Heritage’, an innovative approach for bringing heritage sites to life with virtual technology, increasing opportunities for access and participating with New Zealand’s heritage places $20,000
Minaaka Pre-production, research and development of a web series to tell the story of the Māori electronica roots band WAI and their journey around the world sharing music in te Reo Māori $20,000
Teki Development of a concept and prototype for a gaming and social experience based on interaction with mātauranga Māori, whakapapa, whenua, and whānau, for tamariki and rangatahi. This project will improve access and participation while preserving, protecting, and revitalising mātauranga Māori $20,000
Te Wharetoi o Ngāti Toa Seed funding to develop a business case for the establishment of an iwi based Te Whare Toi ō Ngāti Toa Creative Hub in Porirua $20,000
Unesco Creative Cities To carry out community engagement on and co-design of an augmented reality platform for the Wellington UNESCO City of Film, which will create new opportunities for audiences to access and engage with Wellington’s film history $20,000
With Lime To prepare a business case for the Wellington Region Creative Arts Technology Lab, which aims to build knowledge, skills and capability for using technology in New Zealand’s arts sector, increasing sector sustainability through making technology affordable and accessible and using technology in culturally appropriate ways $20,000
Zealanesia To scope the development and prototyping of a digital storytelling platform using the vaka as medium for navigating and exploring Tokelauan heritage. This will enable and improve Tokelauan and Pasifika access and participation in art, culture and heritage $20,000
TOTAL   $260,000

Online event

Project funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Aotearoa Live Music Recovery Project To support small to medium sized live music venues with artist and audience development that increases diversity. The project will increase access and participation in live music $2,110,000
DOTDOT To develop a platform to enable artists, arts venues, arts organisations and cultural institutions to create their own hybrid and virtual events, allowing them to reach new audiences and drive new revenue streams for their work $206,965
Joel Baxendale and Karin McCracken - In World To develop a flexible and dynamic creative tool that will enable multiple sectors to apply app-technology in an interactive context, thereby creating new opportunities for the arts sector and enabling access and participation $227,605
Metia Interactive To develop Guardian Maia, an online game for rangatahi that imagines a Māori future and uses culturally inclusive creative technology to explore mātauranga Māori traditions and new cultural concepts $290,000
NZ Festival To develop a new values-driven ticketing platform, empowering audiences to choose their own ticket price, thereby increasing access and participation in the cultural sector $200,000
Public Art Heritage Aotearoa NZ To develop a website of Aotearoa’s remaining twentieth century public art heritage, which will enable New Zealanders to access and build awareness of our public art heritage. Funding will also support the development of a national public art forum to develop best-practice guidance and resources for those involved in public art $300,000
QWB Lab To design a suite of tools that helps arts and culture organisations to measure, understand, increase and articulate their wellbeing impact in order to unlock the value of culture and their assets. The development of these tools is aimed at increasing the capacity to generate wellbeing for communities, helping improve access and participation  $150,000
Taki Rua Productions The development and delivery of two immersive live productions of large-scale contemporary Māori performing arts pieces. By presenting mātauranga Māori within contemporary performances the project will increase access and participation to both mātauranga and contemporary performance art $1,323,000
TPW - Māori Pokemon To develop creative assets for an augmented reality app called Pūrākau. The app embeds Te Ao Māori content into the environment around us using mixed reality technology. The project is delivered via smart phone devices to enable accessibility to a wide audience $328,405
TOTAL   $5,135,975

Seed funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Aotearoa Music Showcase To plan and programme a live music event that provides New Zealand musicians and the music industry access to new markets, as well as creating a collaborative approach to providing audiences access to diverse, high quality New Zealand music $20,000
New Zealand Micrographic Services Ltd To prepare a detailed and robust financial report that can be used to provide other sources of funding for micrographic services $20,000
Spiral Collectives Moerangi Micro project Action research into a new film-making paradigm that is globally oriented, sustainable, unionised and whānau friendly, within an animation infrastructure $20,000
Steamcore To scope and test a new interactive social gaming experience meant to democratize content creation and e-sports, increasing commercial opportunities, sector sustainability and improving access and participation $20,000
Te Ringa Maitai The Hand of Steel To work with communities and sector organisations to scope and develop a sustainable collaboration between renowned Māori and Pacific Island artists, and Heavy Metal (a Māori owned commercial art foundry) that is resilient, profitable and kaupapa driven that will increase commercial opportunities for the cultural sector $20,000
The Grid To support the establishment of The Grid, an immersive digital art space in Te Whanganui-a-Tara focused on presenting and cultivating digital art in Aotearoa $20,000
The Village Ōtepoti To develop a partnership-based creative workforce plan for Ōtepoti Dunedin that empowers community-driven leadership and agency $20,000
TOTAL   $140,000

Ōtautahi Christchurch event

Project funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Cross Polynate To develop and deliver a capability building programme for 25 Tagata Moana, Pasifika Creatives in Ōtautahi. $145,415
Fictive To create an experimental writing tool and cloud publishing service to support development of complex manuscripts and data-driven storytelling. The project could lead to greater commercial opportunities for writers. $48,000
The Creators' Room To expand an Ōtautahi platform to a nationwide opportunity for young creatives to develop and showcase their artwork on a wider scale. The initiative improves career pathways for young artists and brings the work of young people to a wider audience. $172,205
Toi Ōtautahi Co-funding for the initial stages of Toi Ōtautahi, the Christchurch arts strategy. Work includes mentoring, commissioning, professional development, and creative practice platforms for artists. The project will support artists and improve access to the arts for people of Waitaha Canterbury. $900,000
TOTAL   $1,265,620

Seed funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Little Street Art Festival - Watch This Space Trust To scope the viability of the Little Street Art Festival, enabling established and emerging urban artists to work in new directions and add their work to Ōtautahi Christchurch’s public spaces, enhancing access for audiences. $20,000
Soundplant - He Kakano Puoro RDU98.5FM To build an evidence base that will support musicians to access knowledge and resources to increase business capability, thereby building resilience for practitioners and the sector. $20,000
33 Media Ltd To develop a funding proposal for a new screen genre series ‘The Seed’ that follows the start-up journeys of entrepreneurs battling to get their big ideas investor-ready. The Seed aims to support innovators in the cultural sector through increasing opportunities and sector resilience, as well as enabling access and participation. $20,000
Warrior Princess Workshops Ltd   To deliver toi Māori wānanga and increase opportunities for tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau to participate. The wānanga will help to inform and build an evidence base to confirm the identified gap, which in turn will support applications for sustainable funding through other avenues. $20,000
Trip Tunz To develop a new music discovery platform to allow audiences to access local music and, in doing so, develop an audience base which will help grow the resilience of the music sector and provide commercial opportunities. $20,000
Tūmahana To work with communities in Hokitika, Kaikōura and Ōtākou to determine future arts programmes to be delivered, in doing so supporting equity of access to arts experiences, sharing knowledge within communities, and increasing the resilience of creative communities by identifying locally determined aspirations and outcomes. $20,000
TOTAL   $120,000

Ōtepoti Dunedin event

Project funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Atawhai Interactive To develop an accessible online game, Toroa, that gives tamariki and rangatahi an experience to fly as Toroa on its journey from the Pacific Ocean back to its home on Taiaroa head. It will explore the themes of whakapapa as the Toroa soars over the ocean, deified as Takaroa, on the winds of Tāwhirimatea. Toroa will be the first in a portfolio of games that centre the natural world and leave players with a lasting experience of Te Ao Māori. $250,000
Te Whare o Rukutia To develop a collaborative database and marketing system and Te Whare o Rukutia as a versatile, multi-purpose venue to support the works of local practitioners. $203,000
TOTAL   $453,000

Seed funding

Recipient name Description Funding
Anna Noonan To develop a business plan to set up a dance organisation in Dunedin to enable access and participation, supported by collaboration in the dance community. The organisation would offer resources, support and advocacy for employment opportunities; provide a range of classes accessible to all ages and abilities and build an outreach programme that builds strong connections with health, well-being, and education sectors. $20,000
Blue Oyster Art Project Space To scope an accessible, physical space for visual artists in Ōtepoti  that offers studios, workshop, and exhibition space. The space would be built on kaupapa Māori principles and would improve access and participation and increase sector sustainability. $20,000
Creative Nātives To undertake the development of a sustainable indigenous business model to create more economic opportunities for Māori and Pasifika creatives and artists who provide bespoke kaupapa driven resources, communications and events. This will increase sector sustainability and resilience by supporting development opportunities and increasing the commercial potential of this work. $20,000
EHCO To develop a comprehensive business plan to support creation of an interactive visitor experience in Central Otago that brings to life the stories of Eden Hore, a Naseby high country farmer and his extraordinary collection of 1970s New Zealand and international designer couture. Digital engagement, augmented reality and unique garment display will make this unique collection more available to the public, as well as arts practitioners and students.  $20,000
Filmmakers Collective Otago Southland To develop a collective entity in Otago-Southland for filmmakers that fosters innovative collaboration, contributes to sustainable career pathways, retains talent in the region and brings more stories from the south to the small and big screen. $20,000
Good Company Arts To create a series of immersive virtual reality journeys that celebrate the sound and form of Taonga Pūoro, thereby connecting a wider audience to the artform and to the whenua. $20,000
Inati To scope the formalisation and strengthening of existing Pasifika arts networks and to build a Pasifika physical and virtual resource centre that connects Pasifika creative individuals, groups and ecosystems in Aotearoa and beyond to improve access and participation. $20,000
Ka Hao te Rakatahi To engage with experts to develop interactive digital tools focusing on preservation, retention and intergenerational transmission of mātauraka Kāi Tahu for rakatahi and whānau of Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau, one of the most significant remaining wetlands in Te Waipounamu. $20,000
Te Rūnaka o Ōtākou Scoping the use of a web platform to leverage pūrākau, and traditional and contemporary technologies to connect with the Ōtākou diaspora. The project seeks to reinvigorate cultural identity and mātauraka through a digital medium. $20,000
Yellow Eye Ltd To launch a website to coordinate and manage participatory programmes for artists with schools alongside events and festivals, improving access and increasing commercial opportunities. $20,000
TOTAL   $200,000

Murihiku Invercargill event

Project funding

Recipient name Description Funding
South Sea Spray Trust To deliver South Sea Spray, an annual mural festival and associated workshops, based in Southland for the next three years, creating opportunities for New Zealand mural artists and Southland communities to participate in a large-scale festival. $180,000
Southland Regional Heritage Committee To support Project Ark’s current work (researching, cataloguing, imaging, and sharing collections online via eHive) at Te Hikoi Museum in Riverton and contributing to future projects at other cultural heritage institutions within Southland over a three-year period. This work will improve sector capability and sustainability for the organisations involved and will improve public access to collections. $285,000
TOTAL   $465,000

Seed funding

Recipient name Description Funding
AKH ('Api-ko-haukinima) To research a business plan to understand what is needed to produce authentic Tongan mats and make them more accessible for Tongan people, and to teach this craft and pass on the knowledge to those who wish to learn it. Southland has scarce resources and creating a Tongan network in the South Island will boost Tongan cultural practices and raise awareness by increasing access and participation. $20,000
Creative Trend To develop a business plan with the intent of informing a public launch for the Creative Community hub where members of the Southland community will be able to participate in arts, and commercial opportunities will be increased. $20,000
E H Productions Limited To establish a 2D/3D animation studio in Invercargill for the purpose of creating high-quality children’s screen content for local and international audiences. $20,000
Louise Evans To investigate how arts and education stakeholders classify, measure, and communicate creativity; then mapping creative activity and gaps in Murihiku. The project offers the prospect of establishing a model for wider use, and with it the prospect of positioning creative projects for broader investment. $20,000
Ngā Toi a Matakauri (NTAM) To investigate creating Aotearoa’s first digital museum as a space that showcases Te Ao Māori and the richness of Māori culture through creativity, technology, and innovation. $20,000
Northern Southland Maker Space To undertake research around a novel rethink of a community arts space with a focus on rural culture revitalisation and intergenerational knowledge transfer through creativity. The space will be for creators and artists of all ages to share knowledge, skills and experience across a range of mediums and to re-frame exploration of the arts in an accessible format. $20,000
Shapecutter To scope the viability of a regional programme through workshops that will improve opportunities for dance professionals and increase sector sustainability and resilience. $20,000
Take Tuia To develop a project plan that determines how digital technology can be used to boost active storytelling including pūrākau and how this can be used to create employment opportunities and pathways for rangatahi through cultural engagement. $20,000
Thrive Community Trust To deliver outdoor art events for young people in Invercargill, expanding local opportunities for access and participation in the arts. $20,000
TOTAL   $180,000


At Te Urungi events, participants are supported by kāiawhina, Manatū Taonga staff and experts – for example in digital, marketing 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.   

During the event, participants present their project to the Te Urungi evaluation panel. Each confidential ‘sharing session’ is 10 minutes long, with time for teams to present their project and receive some feedback. The panel is made up of three sector representatives and is chaired by a non-voting staff member from Manatū Taonga. At the sharing sessions, the panel are looking to understand how each project could help achieve the Innovation Fund purpose and outcomes.  

Teams then provide some supporting information that the panel uses, alongside the information gathered at the sharing session, to consider each project against a published set of evaluation criteria. The panel then meets to evaluate projects against these criteria and to make funding recommendations, this session also chaired by a non-voting staff member from Manatū Taonga.  

While securing funding will be a key goal for participants, Te Urungi events are designed so that everyone walks away with new knowledge, skills and connections.  


Manatū Taonga staff conduct due diligence on projects and then provide a final recommendation to Manatū Taonga leadership, who make the final decisions.   

Evaluation panel  

Sharing session non- voting chair: Simon Bowden, Principal Adviser Sector, Te Aka Tūhono, Manatū Taonga 

Evaluation non-voting chairs: Either Simon Bowden or Paula Dixon, Manager, Te Aka Tūhono, Manatū Taonga  

External panel members  

External panel members ensure advice and input from people in the sector with knowledge and expertise in arts, culture and heritage, innovation and kaupapa Māori.  

W. Gary Nicholas    

Iwi affiliations: Te Atiawa, Tangahoe, Taranaki, Ngaiterangi, Ngati Ranginui  

Gary currently serves as a trustee of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Te Māori - Manaaki Taonga. He has held senior Māori art advisory positions with MASPAC (Council for Māori and Pacific Arts), QEII/Creative New Zealand and Te Papa. Gary served as general manager of Toi Māori Aotearoa- Māori Arts New Zealand the multi-disciplinary Māori artists organisation for 22 years.  

Gary provides advice on Mātauranga Māori to the innovation fund particularly as it applies to Māori arts, culture and heritage.   

Savannah Atai Petero   

Iwi affiliations:  Te Āti Awa Taranaki and Cook Islands Māori  

Providing an innovation perspective to the Innovation Fund, Savannah practised as a solicitor with a specific focus on intellectual property law for indigenous clients. Savannah is a part of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship programme and has advised projects from within the programme. Savannah also studied performing arts and has toured nationally and internationally.   

Elise Sterback  

A PhD candidate researching arts policy at the University of Auckland, Elise is the former executive director of Basement Theatre and has a background in community development and marketing. She has produced theatre, festivals and a range of artistic happenings. As a strategist and arts advocate, Elise sits on the board of regional arts trust Te Taumata-Toi-a-Iwi, previously served on the Creative Coalition board, and has participated in other arts policy steering groups at local and national levels.  

Elise provided an arts, culture and heritage perspective as a member of the evaluation panel for the Te Whanganui-a-Tara and the online Te Urungi event.   

Pelenakeke Brown  

An interdisciplinary artist, curator, and writer, Pelenakeke’s practice explores the intersections between disability cultural concepts and Sāmoan cultural concepts. Her work investigates sites of knowledge, and she uses technology, writing, poetry, and performance to explore these ideas.   

A globally located and recognised practitioner with international and national publications, collaborations, presentations and development projects, Pelenakeke has provided advice regarding arts, culture and heritage on the Te Urungi innovation evaluation panel since the Ōtautahi event.   

Updated on 21st October 2021