Issue date: 
Thursday, 25 August 2022

An independent review commissioned by the Board of the New Zealand Film Commission on its conflict of interest management policy and processes, has found that nothing improper occurred but said disclosure and management of interests and potential conflicts could be improved.

The executive summary of Venter Consulting’s Report on conflict-of-interest management by the Board was made available today. The completion and release of the Report had been delayed by the impact of Covid–19. 

The Report was commissioned to examine NZFC’s conflict-management processes and specifically whether they had been adequate for recent circumstances in which then CEO David Strong had an authorial interest in a drama series called The Pilgrim, commercially optioned by Great Southern Television (GSTV). 

The Report says “the Board and David Strong both had opportunities to better handle the disclosure and management of his conflicts of interest”, during and following his recruitment, and recommends better documentation of expectations, discussions, and decisions about conflicts of interest and their management.  

The Report highlights that the Board should have had better documented agreements about how the conflict relating to David Strong’s drama series The Pilgrim would be managed. It states that the Board should have ensured that NZFC staff and key stakeholders were informed about the Board’s process to manage conflicts. 

Outgoing Board Chair Dame Kerry Prendergast says the Board accepts the findings of the Report and its recommendations. 

“The Report’s event timeline show that conflicts of interest were identified and managed, but the recommendation is that our approach should have been more thorough, and we agree,” says Ms Prendergast. 

“The Report found that initially David Strong’s potential conflict was known, discussed and a method of managing it was agreed. But when a subsequent potential conflict arose, we failed to formally document planned actions.” 

Prendergast said the report was clear that many conflicts of interest are manageable, which is crucial to a small country and screen industry where potential conflicts are likely among the experienced staff needed for the NZFC and similar organisations. 

“The report is important to the future of the NZFC’s appointments”. 

“The Board has accepted the Venter Report and has committed to implement changes that ensure all interests, and any arising conflicts, are surfaced early and are managed (or otherwise addressed) to avoid impropriety (or the appearance of such).” 

“I wish the best for the Board and new Chair and have confidence that these needed changes will help them in the future,” Prendergast said.    

The Board has adopted changes to:

  1. Include conflict of interest expectations in the CEO job description, increase conflict of interest disclosure steps in the CEO employment process, and document all decisions and agreements relating to those conflicts
  2. Review the NZFC Staff Conflict of Interest Policy, train staff on the revised policy, and update the Staff Interest Declaration form to include any agreed management plan where conflicts arise
  3. Update the Board Governance Manual and NZFC Rules governing delegations to provide additional guidance around conflicts of interest
  4. Provide minute-taking training for staff, including for recording conflict of interest declarations
  5. Publish the (updated) conflict of interest policies for staff and Board members on the NZFC website
  6. Amend the Terms of Reference of all Board committees and working groups to include a process for identifying and managing conflicts of interest  

Notes to Editors

About the Film Commission

The Commission is a government agency based in Wellington and Auckland, to help make and promote New Zealand films, attract international productions and develop careers for local filmmakers. It invests in between eight and 12 great films New Zealand feature films and short films each year. It administers the New Zealand Screen Production Grant and other grants and assist with co-productions. It has been involved in more than 300 feature films including Hunt for The Wilderpeople, Tickled, The Lord of the Rings, McLaren, The Hobbit, and Waru.  

About the Premium Fund

The Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund (Te Puna Kairangi Premium Fund) supports the Aotearoa New Zealand production sector recovery from COVID-19 by supporting high-quality productions that tell New Zealand stories for global audiences.  Find out more here 

About Venter Consulting

Wendy Venter is an independent consultant and board director. She is a former partner at EY, deputy chief executive at the Ministry of Social Development and assistant auditor general. 


Media contact

Nick Gowland
+64 21 599 883


Last updated: 
Thursday, 25 August 2022