Covid-19 Statement

Our Covid-19 Statement

We wanted to take the opportunity to update you on our plans for #NZWF20, in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it’s causing. It’s taken us a little bit of time to do this, not because we needed time to formulate a plan, just that we had to climb our mountain of toilet rolls to get here.

Several other industry events in NZ and elsewhere have cancelled or postponed their 2020 editions. We fully support the right of each of those organisations to take the decisions that are most appropriate for their situations. NZ Web Fest has been much luckier than some events who had very little time to make changes. We have had, and still have, plenty of time to adapt. Our decision is that #NZWF20 will go ahead on the dates previously announced, the weekend of Sat 14 – Sun 15 November. How we present our 2020 edition remains, of course, open.

One of the things the internet was supposed to do was give us greater opportunity, more choice. NZ Web Fest is, after all, an event created to celebrate online content and its creators. There’s always been some tension for us between the desire to offer our guests as much choice as possible and the realities of event delivery. The reset that responses to the coronavirus have caused – from social distancing to quarantine periods and travel bans – has forced everybody to interact in different ways and use some different tools.

If you were an investor in Zoom, congratulations.


Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we were already investigating ways to present some of our screening blocks on attendees’ devices rather than on theatre screens. It wasn’t prescience on our part, simply that we wanted to offer NZ Web Fest attendees more value. We wanted our guests not to have to choose between attending a conference session and seeing shows they wanted to.

Admittedly by good luck rather than good judgement, we made a plan for our festival screenings that requires almost no adaptation to work in an environment where social distancing measures and travel restrictions may still be in place. And we’re very happy to take that win.


As most of us know by now, it’s very possible to deliver conference sessions remotely. We’ve seen and trialled a number of apps and platforms combined in a number of ways to do that. We can, and will, present our conference day, whether we’re somewhere you have to queue for the bathroom or in the comfort of a public venue.


The part of NZ Web Fest we’re most reluctant to relinquish as a live, up close and in person thing, is the awards ceremony. Not only does it usually mark the conclusion of the event, it’s the most social part of our programme: the time when we can all relax, enjoy one another’s company, celebrate and say things we may later ascribe to a temporary endorphin rush or alcohol.

At this stage we can’t say if we’ll be able to be together together or together alone, but we can say that we will be together, and that there will be joy, happiness, applause, awkward acceptance speeches, trophies, winners, and hand sanitiser. And, if we’re really lucky, the same government in New Zealand and a different one in the USA.

For those of you who are creators, we hope to be able to share your shows at #NZWF20. For those of you who aren’t creators, please support creators by watching shows and sharing the ones you’ve loved across your own networks.

Stay safe.
Published: 20 April 2020