Weta Workshop's Sir Richard Taylor has been named Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.
Sir Richard, knighted in 2010 for services to film, was presented with the honour last night by governor-general Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Weta, which has worked on Avatar and Lord of the Rings, employs more than 1000 people and has annual revenues in the hundreds of millions.
Sir Richard has set a shining example by being a global player in the international movie industry while choosing to base himself in New Zealand, judges said.
Despite his enormous list of Hollywood successes and multiple Oscars, the work he is most proud of is the TV series Jane and the Dragon, whose message is “girls can do anything”.
Sir Richard beat finalists World of Wearable Arts founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff and Dr Sharad Paul, who funds literacy programmes in low-decile Auckland schools and whose Skin Surgery Clinic in Auckland gives free skin cancer checks.
Last year’s Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year winner was scientist Sir Paul Callaghan.
The Young New Zealander award went to Sam Johnson, founder and leader of the Student Volunteer Army, which helped Christchurch residents pick up the pieces after the earthquakes.
Malcolm Cameron from Dunedin was named the Countdown Senior New Zealander of the Year for dedicating his life to establishing a successful youth development trust.
Henare O’Keefe from Hastings was awarded the Kiwibank Local Heroes Award for his work with at-risk youth and family violence prevention.
And the Paeroa Community received the Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award for outstanding community development achievements.