When Kerikeri media and entertainment producer Kylie Penn was 15 years old she knew she wanted to make television for children using puppets.

Although her aspirations were out of step with the trend for gritty documentaries favoured by her film tutors, they commended her grit when she was still determined to work in the field at the end of the course.

It has been the same determination and tenacity that has carried her through over 20 years of research and experience in children’s television.

Kylie’s efforts have culminated in the socially responsive, non-profit organisation, Illumination Workshop, which was awarded $30,000 and six months business mentoring under Top Energy’s Business Development Fund.

The Illumination Workshop develops and produces entertaining online educational screen media content that supports children throughout New Zealand to grow into healthy and happy individuals.
Inspired by Sesame Street and recognising the potential that puppetry offered for presenting challenging concepts, Kylie and her team have developed a formula which delivers a series of inspirational programs that educate children on self-development.

Based around a dog called Mac and other farmyard animals, programmes are compiled around themes of respect, resilience, conflict resolution, decision making and physical wellbeing. Mac’s Patch offers children between 3 to 7 years safe online access to a world where they direct their own learning at their own pace.

The first phase of a pilot to test local interest in the programme was filmed in April and will shortly be ready for public release. It includes four short films around resilience, relationships, water safety and brushing teeth.

The Top Energy Grant will be used to develop phase two of the pilot which will be released within the first term of the school year. Kylie is looking forward to showing what the Illumination Workshop is capable of and is ready to prove that Northland can produce quality film work just like Wellywood.

In time, the programmes will be free to the community through television and the web for use in classrooms, libraries, hospitals and the home and are supported by online learning resources and material.

Top Energy Chief Executive Russell Shaw recognised the same tenacity admired by Kylie’s tutors in her application for the business grant. He applauded her depth of commitment to the programme and the potential it provided for local people working in the creative industries and the contribution it would make to the social wellbeing of the region’s children.

Top Energy launched the Business Development Fund in 2014. The scheme is designed to encourage and promote economic growth in the Far North. Grants of up to $30,000 are awarded twice a year for local business ideas or initiatives that have the potential to grow or diversify the Far North economy.

The money is either awarded in full to a single stand-out idea or in smaller amounts to several initiatives, depending on the number, quality and merit of the applications received.

Russell was impressed by the calibre of entries and says it was encouraging to see the enormous business potential and talent that exists in the Far North.


For more information please contact:
Philippa White
philippa.white@topenergy.co.nz / 021-2418740

Kylie Penn
Illumination Workshop
illuminationworkshop@gmail.com / 021 159 3944