NHNZ to do series on national parks

Dunedin-based company NHNZ is putting the natural history back into New Zealand television with a new series on the country's national parks.

The six-part series Wild at Heart will be hosted by Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan and screen on TV One late next year.

The high-definition series will focus on the evolving nature of national parks and mark the 125th anniversary of the first national park, Tongariro, and the 25th birthday of the Department of Conservation.

NHNZ executive vice-president of development and marketing Neil Harraway said it would be the first time in more than a decade the television company had produced a natural history documentary series for New Zealand television.

"Having started in New Zealand with New Zealand nature, it is great to come back and revisit it."

He said the company worked on the centennial series on national parks 25 years ago, and "we were delighted that this would get back on New Zealand television".

While the company has enjoyed global success and recognition across a wide range of genres, it was pleasing to work on a NZ on Air-funded production likely to be screened in primetime.

There was already overseas interest in the series, he said.

"New Zealand parks are really special. They were some of the first in the world; that is why it could have overseas potential. New Zealand has been a leader in conservation; national parks, marine reserves and endangered species."

The series would focus more on people than on information, with Keoghan meeting characters in the parks.

The series was pitched to the company by a group including former Dunedin resident and radio host Jim Mora and former television journalist Joanna Paul.

The series will include national parks Tongariro, Whanganui, Te Urewera, Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi, Paparoa, Mt Cook, Westland and Fiordland, with the Department of Conservation and local iwi assisting NHNZ in the production.



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