Applications for the 2016/17 Contestable Funding Round have now closed. The successful applicants will be announced in October.

PART ONE: Overview

PART TWO: Application Criteria

PART THREE: The Funding Application Process

PART FOUR: The Fine Print



The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO invites applications for funding from organisations which have projects, events, programmes or initiatives that reflect our mission:  

'To further the vision and current goals of UNESCO in New Zealand and as part of the Pacific through education, the sciences, culture and the free exchange of ideas and intercultural dialogue.'

Applications are sought for projects that will contribute in a lasting way to the mandate of UNESCO at a national or regional level. Applications are primarily being sought for funding from $5,000 to the level of $50,000, which will be considered as major projects. Applications for amounts under $5,000 (considered as minor projects) are also welcome (with the same deadline), but will be considered in September.

To check initial eligibility, ‘Expressions of Interest’ are invited for all projects. 


As a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNESCO contributes to the promotion of peace, human development and intercultural dialogue in an era of globalization through its five major programme areas: education, the sciences (natural and social), culture, communication and information.

UNESCO is the only UN agency to have a system of National Commissions in its Member States. The Commissions form a vital link between governments and civil society and UNESCO itself.

New Zealand is proud to have been one of the first signatories to the constitution of UNESCO in 1946. For 70 years, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO has represented and furthered the objectives of UNESCO across all areas of its mandate.


Representation | Expert Advice | Liaison | Network Connection

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO is mandated to provide expert advice to the New Zealand Government on UNESCO related matters and provide specialist advice to UNESCO on relevant issues in New Zealand and the Pacific. We liaise with specialist Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), government, academic and industry organisations within New Zealand and overseas in areas of competence and focus. We carry out activities in support of UNESCO in New Zealand and in the region, and sometimes carry out activities in New Zealand stimulated by UNESCO ideas/conferences /networks.


Applicants can apply for a grant to the level of $50,000.  The types of activities, projects and ideas we will consider are very broad. As UNESCO is an organisation of ‘ideas’, it very much encourages innovation and new ways of working.  As long as you fulfil the criteria detailed in the following pages, your application will considered.   

Priority will be given to:

  • projects which demonstrate long-term impact
  • projects with national impact or local/regional activities with wider potential nationally and internationally
  • projects which are intersectoral, that is they engage two or more of UNESCO’s mandated areas of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communications and information
  • activities which promote NZ engagement with the Pacific.

Examples might include but are not limited to, the following types of activities:

  • fora, conferences, competitions, hui
  • initiatives, programmes, innovative research
  • collaboration, dialogue, peace-building, expert knowledge-building
  • community, regional or national capability building.

 Please click here for examples of projects awarded funding in the 2015/2016 financial year.


Applicants and applications must fulfil all of following criteria:


To be successful, your application must contribute to one or more of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO’s six strategic priorities:

  1. Promoting quality education for all.
  2. Connecting science, policy and people.
  3. Supporting our indigenous identity and our cultural heritage.
  4. Promoting intercultural dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.
  5. Celebrating cultural diversity.
  6. Engaging with young people for a sustainable bright future.

The proposed activity MUST:

  • Be a new initiative or an existing initiative that would be further enhanced by partnership with the NZ National Commission.
  • Not have been previously funded by the NZ National Commission.
  • Take place within New Zealand or the Pacific.
  • Be made by an applicant who has a record of experience and success in the subject area of the project.
  • Be supported by other funding; either from the applicant themselves and/or by having secured funding from other sources in addition to the funding applied for.

Applicants MUST:

  • Be groups or organisations (including NGO’s, Charities, Iwi, businesses, social enterprises, trusts etc) that have legal status and are based in New Zealand. (Note: the applicant must be the legal entity with whom the Commission contracts for the funding and to whom the funding will be paid.)

Additional Criteria:

  • Organisations are only eligible for funding once in a 12 month period.
  • As a general rule UNESCO will only fund requests for up to 50% of the total project cost.
  • The applicant will bear all other expenses for carrying out the proposed activity.
  • Projects must be completedby 30 June 2017. Exceptions may be sought where a large project would be constrained by such a deadline. These applicants should make this request as part of their EOI stating an alternative completion date with appropriate milestones. Such major projects may apply for further funding in subsequent years.
  • Funding can only be used to cover costs identified at the time of application.
  • If an application is incomplete, illegible, or mandatory documentation has not been included, your application will not be considered.


The National Commission will not accept applications:

  • from individuals seeking personal study or research grants
  • from start-ups seeking to establish or grow their organisation
  • projects seeking to promote political or religious objectives
  • from government departments or government-funded agencies for which the proposed activity is core business. (The Commission acknowledges that many projects can only be funded in partnership with central or local government – in this case exceptions may be made where the case is sound.)
  • for the purchase of capital items
  • for completed projects or recurrent projects
  • For or towards, an organisation’s ongoing operational costs including salaries and honoraria (fees may be funded if they are an essential component of the funded project).

If you wish to check whether you are eligible and are not sure after reading this information pack, please contact us.



  1. Write an Expression of Interest (EOI) and submit this to the NZ National Commission (by 01 June 2016)
  2. Receive feedback from the Secretariat of the New Zealand National Commission on your EOI - decide whether to submit a formal application
  3. Submit formal application (by 5 July 2016)
  4. Successful and unsuccessful applicants informed (August 2016 for major projects, by end of September for minor)
  5. Completed funding contract must be returned
  6. Contracting, payment and projects commence (No later than end of September 2016)
  7. Interim project report sent (mid-February 2017)
  8. Project activity delivered (before 30 June 2017)
  9. Recipients complete reporting, legal and contractual obligations (by 31 May 2017 or one month after completion of the project)

NOTE: The purpose of calling for Expressions of Interest is to enable those individuals and organisations which will be submitting an application for funding to receive immediate guidance from the Secretariat on the appropriateness of the proposed project for funding. This step is not necessary but is advised.


Expressions of Interest (EOIs) are invited by 01 June 2016.

An EOI should take the form of a letter or email attachment, no longer than two pages, which introduces your organisation, explains how you fulfil the above criteria and briefly outlines your proposal, the way/s in which it reflects UNESCO’s mandate and aims, the budget, the amount of funding you are seeking and any other key information such as other partners you may work with. This may be particularly useful for major projects.

The EOI is an opportunity for you to test whether your proposal does in fact fulfil the criteria laid down. It gives the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO an opportunity to provide you with helpful feedback to ensure that if you decide to make a formal application, you have all the information you need. The Secretariat intends to provide feedback on your EOI within two weeks of receiving your submission.


To apply, download and complete the funding form, including all requested information and submit it to the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO by 5pm, 5 July 2016 by email and in hard copy. Hard copies can be submitted via post, courier or by hand.

The application MUST include:
• Two completed referee forms (specific to the relevant initiative) from referees who have no financial interest in the project. For example these referees may have provided you or your organisation with funding in the past and can outline the benefits your service or activity delivered. The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO may choose to seek additional testimonials. Include their full name, role, affiliation and full contact details.
• A full project budget.
• A signature by the most senior authorised person within the organisation (they need to sign the application form and any funding agreement).
• Documents confirming the existence of the applicant organisation– trust deed, certificate of incorporation etc.
• A declaration of any potential conflicts of interest.

NOTE: Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances.


All applications from $5,000 to the level of $50,000 will be considered by the National Commission in July/August 2016. It is anticipated that decisions will be communicated by the end of August 2016.

Successful applicants must sign and return the funding agreement and relevant documentation by the end of September 2016.

Minor applications (less than $5,000) will be considered in September 2016.




Download Referee Form (DOCX, 245Kb)

Download Application Form (DOCX, 346Kb)

Download Application Pack (PDF, 721Kb)


The following are general terms and conditions under New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO funding arrangements. A full and detailed contract will be issued to successful applicants.

1. Applications must be made on the application form for Contestable Activity Fund (2016/2017) and include all the information requested on the form. They should be typed wherever possible.

2. The persons signing an application form and funding agreement must be duly authorised to do so.

3. Applications must be accompanied by completed referee forms provided by two referees with no financial interest in the project who if possible have provided you or your organisation with funding in the past. The National Commission reserves the right to ask for additional referees if required.

4. Funding will not be provided to projects that have concluded before the applicant is advised of the outcome of their application by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

5. Applicants are required to declare any potential conflicts of interest at the time of submitting their application to the National Commission.

6. The applicant must be the legal entity with whom the Commission contracts for the funding and to whom the funding will be paid (Please note that the funding is administered by the Secretariat within the Ministry of Education, International Division on behalf of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO).

7. The National Commission may undertake the following due diligence in relation to applicants for Grant funding. The findings will be taken into account in the evaluation process:

  • reference check the applying organisation and named personnel
  • other checks against the applicant e.g. Companies Office
  • inspect audited accounts for the last three financial years

On approval of funding:

8. Unless otherwise provided for in the letter of approval of funding, the applicant shall bear all other expenses for carrying out the proposed activity.

9. Funding can only be used to cover costs identified at the time of application.

10. Any funding unexpended for the purpose for which it was approved must be returned to the Ministry of Education on behalf of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

11. The National Commission reserves the right to withdraw support for any initiative at any time. Prior approval must be sought from the National Commission in the event of a significant change in the activity for which funding has been approved.

12. The applicant is not to be considered as an agent or member of the National Commission.

13. The applicant shall not be entitled to any privileges, immunities, compensation or reimbursement, nor is the applicant authorised to commit the National Commission to any expenditure or other obligations.

14. The applicant undertakes full responsibility for the purchase of any insurance that may be necessary in respect of any loss, injury or damage which might occur during the execution of the activity.

Acknowledgement of the National Commission

15. The applicant is to include the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO logo on any promotional material related to their project and acknowledgement of the support of the National Commission in any media statements released.

16. The contribution from the National Commission should be acknowledged in any publications, speeches and media releases relating to the project or activity, and identified as an integral component of the National Commission’s work programme.

17. The Chair and members of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and its Secretariat would appreciate being invited to any function in which the project is highlighted. While it may not always be possible for a representative to attend, they would hope to do so if they can.

Payment of funds

18. On advice from the National Commission that the application has been successful, the applicant will receive a letter of offer which will outline the conditions of the funding and the milestones / deadline for receipt of the final report.

19. The applicant’s counter-signing of the letter constitutes a formal agreement between the applicant and the Ministry of Education on behalf of the National Commission.

20. The applicant will be asked to provide bank account details which must be in the name of the recipient organisation, as shown in the application, and provide a pre-printed deposit slip as proof of your bank account details. Please note that the bank account must be a New Zealand bank account. Grants will not be paid to overseas bank accounts.

21. 90% of the approved funding will be paid in advance directly into an approved bank account.

22. The balance of approved funding will be paid upon receipt of a satisfactory report and accounts as outlined below.


23. Successful applicants must provide an interim report on their project mid-February and a full report on the project within four weeks of completion of the project.

24. In addition a 300 word summary suitable for publication by the National Commission must be provided. This should include photos, media releases or other relevant publicity.

25. A completed accountability form together with a financial statement detailing all expenditure of Grant funds must be provided with the report within four weeks of completion of the project.

26. It should be noted that the National Commission is liable to inspection by the Office of the Auditor General. Therefore, all successful applicants will be required to account for the spending of funds received. The National Commission will require the funds to be returned if their use cannot be adequately accounted for.


If after reading this, you still have questions, please feel free to get in touch.

Telephone - +64 (04) 463 8600
Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Physical Address(for couriers) - NZ National Commission for UNESCO ATTN: Secretariat, Mātauranga House, Upper Basement,33 Bowen Street,Wellington 6011.
Postal Address - NZ National Commission for UNESCO, PO Box 1666, Wellington 6140.