HEIHEI, the ad-free streaming platform aimed at Kiwi kids launches: 'a safe, online place where they can see themselves'

A new Kiwi ad-free platform hosting local programming for children has been launched today.

HEIHEI is a platform starring, and aimed at, New Zealand kids with brand new cartoons and programmes - and some familiar ones.

New Zealand on Air has invested $14 million into the project - a joint venture with TVNZ which is being hosted online and through Apple and android apps.

Clare Curran, the Broadcasting and Digital Media Minister, says Kiwi kids have "nothing that mirrors their stories - that puts a sense of value in their stories".

"Having a platform that's dedicated to children with mostly New Zealand content on it is a huge step forward in New Zealand," Ms Curran said.

Miriam Dean, the New Zealand on Air chair, says the company's vision is about "reflecting and connecting our nation".

"We need to reflect and connect our kids, and so our children need a safe, online place where they can see themselves, they can hear themselves," Ms Dean said.

Ninety-one per cent of Kiwi kids have up to an hour of screen time each day between internet, television and TVNZ On Demand, and more than half spend over an hour.

Ninety per cent of parents say they want to see more New Zealand content for children.

Research has found that the most popular media platforms for New Zealand children are no longer traditional ones like television, but YouTube.

A lot of the online giant's content is international, creating a major impact on the way children behave and communicate.

"Our children are growing up with American accents because they watch American cartoon series," Ms Curran said.

Judge Andrew Becroft, the Children's Commissioner, says it's important to encourage and grow a "distinctive Aotearoa culture" on Kiwi TV screens.

"All we know about wellbeing of our children and their views is that values are important, and one of them is being connected to their culture," Mr Becroft said.

"I think it's great to have something that's distinctly New Zealand that brings an Aotearoa flavour in it; that our kids aren't growing up with an ad-laden TV environment with American accents."

Through cartoons, cooking, pet and puppet shows, HEIHEI aims to give Kiwi children a chance to see themselves, and their own language, on screen.

HEIHEI is available as an iOS app and Android app, or head to

TVNZ and NZ On Air are today celebrating the launch of their band new children’s media platform Source: 1 NEWS