The New Zealand government is to inject $48 million (NZ$74.4 million) of cash to help the film and TV industries recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus and the country’s strict lockdown measures. The financial package was announced Wednesday by Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Carmel Sepuloni.

Fully $32.3 million (NZ$50 million) of it will go into a fund used to produce up to five feature films or limited series.

Another $15.1 million (NZ$23.4 million) will be distributed through NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission to help films and series which were shut down or delayed and incurred additional costs as a result.

New Zealand sees its film and TV industries as currently damaged and in need of support, but ultimately benefiting from an earlier restart compared with other countries.

“The demand for screen product has not lessened under COVID-19 conditions, but with production still on hiatus in many countries, eyes are turning to those where production has not just re-started, but where there are strong health and safety protocols in place to protect workers,” said the New Zealand Film Commission.

“(The new funds) means productions can resume, Kiwis can start working again, and the flow on effects for auxiliary businesses continue. Part of the Screen Production Fund investment is for new content, which translates to new jobs for Kiwis, and enables a robust pipeline of local content for New Zealand audiences,” said Sepuloni. She said that the moves protect some NZ$250 million of investments already committed.

The NZ$50 million production finance will be jointly managed by the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air.

“The package (wholly) managed by the NZFC totals $9.95 million (NZ$15.4 million) of capacity funding and production support. The NZ$2 million in cultural capability funding will ensure the sector has the necessary industry, technical and business capability to meet the challenges of a post COVID-19 environment. A further NZ$13.4 million will support productions that were shut down, delayed or otherwise impacted by COVID-19 restrictions to be completed,” said the NZFC in a statement.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the New Zealand screen industry has been significant and created uncertainty for a sector that contributes so much to the economy and to our national identity. We look forward to working with our colleagues at NZ On Air to bring distinctly New Zealand high-end feature film and series drama projects to local and global audiences,” said NZFC chair Kerry Prendergast.

Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford said that $90.5 million (NZ$140 million) to cover New Zealand’s ongoing commitments under the New Zealand Screen Production Grant for International Productions had been safeguarded. It includes $16.2 million (NZ$25 million) reallocated to support the funding for New Zealand feature films.

“New Zealand continues to attract a number of international screen projects, including the ‘Avatar’ sequels, and Amazon’s TV series based on ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Beyond these large projects, we are also pleased to be attracting a range of other international productions and interest in New Zealand as a screen production location remains very strong,” Twyford said.