NHNZ staff affected by funding shortfall

Kyle Murdoch
Kyle Murdoch
Contractors working for flagship Dunedin company NHNZ face a nervous wait for new work, after their funding for ZooMoo television dried up for the financial year.

However, NHNZ managing director Kyle Murdoch remains confident of retaining the team of highly skilled workers.

A ''handful'' of more than 20 staff working on the children's wildlife and puppet programme - seen around the world - would finish up when their contracts expired at the end of the month, Mr Murdoch confirmed.

Contracts for the remaining workers had been extended to staggered end dates of between March and May, in the hope NHNZ could find more work for them, Mr Murdoch said.

It was ''absolutely'' the aim to retain the skilled workers, he said.

''It's really important that we make sure we keep this highly skilled team of people in Dunedin. We don't want to lose them.''

He put the situation down to a ''timing issue'' after the company switched to a new financial year structure last year.

That meant the next annual fee for making ZooMoo television shows was not due until September 1, later than previously, which left contract workers in limbo for longer than in other years.

''We're trying to roll out people's contracts for as long as we possibly can, but there will probably be a bigger gap than they've had in previous years between going on to a new contract.

''Those people did sign their contract knowing the contract was ending in February.

''There was never any promise of any work beyond February. That's just how this whole film and TV industry does work.''

The company was contracted as a production house for ZooMoo International, a Singapore company owned by Blue Ant Media, which also acquired NHNZ last year.

NHNZ received an annual fee to produce a set amount of ZooMoo content each year, and employed contractors on fixed terms to help handle the workload.

In previous years, NHNZ had picked up other third-party work to help subsidise the cost of ZooMoo.

That reduced the gap between when funding for ZooMoo was exhausted and the next annual fee was received, and the amount of downtime for contractors waiting for their next batch of work.

This year, in addition to a longer wait for the next funding round, NHNZ had not acquired other third-party work for the contractors.

Mr Murdoch was confident NHNZ would secure more work.

''We just have to spend some time out in the marketplace to procure that third-party work.''



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