It's a typical New Zealand town, except for the eye-poppingly high murder rate.

Welcome to fictional Brokenwood, the scene of the new $4 million Kiwi drama series The Brokenwood Mysteries.

Shooting starts in Auckland on Tuesday on four two-hour episodes of the new Prime series.

Producers say the format allows for richer plots and greater depth than typical 45 minute cop show episodes.


The series stars New Zealand actors Fern Sutherland and Neill Rea and the main set for the Brokenwood Police Station is at South Pacific Pictures' studios in West Auckland.

Sutherland played Dawn on The Almighty Johnsons. It's Rea's first leading screen role after apperainces in Go Girls and the 1999 movie Scarfies. In Brokenwood, he plays Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd, who's great at being a cop, awful at being in relationships.

He arrives from out of town to solve a crime, falls in love with Brokenwood, and quickly butts heads with Sutherland's Detective Constable Kristin Sims. Driven and ambitious, she doesn't immediately take to his unpretentious, good-natured ways.

"She wants to do a good job and she desperately wants to be taken seriously," Sutherland told the Herald on Sunday. Rea is learning some new driving skills as part of his rehearsals, and he and Sutherland are spending time with police to get a better feel for their roles.

Each tele-feature will be shot in 14 days, and features the pair trying to solve a different murder each episode.

The series will screen on Prime, probably before the end of the year.

"Prime has seen a real opportunity to reinvigorate the local television drama genre and we are delighted to have the support of New Zealand On Air for this suspenseful and humorous series," said the channel's head, Karen Bieleski.

The production has been given $4.28m by New Zealand On Air.

Mike Smith will direct two episodes, and one each from Michael Hurst and Josh Frizzell.

Tim Balme is lead writer with James Griffin also contributing.