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NZ 'incredible' place to fulfill dreams - Sir Richard

Published: 5:47AM Friday February 17, 2012 Source: ONE News

Sir Richard Taylor, who was named New Zealander of the Year last night, said it is "critical" young Kiwis do not think they have to leave the country to achieve their goals.

Speaking on TV ONE's Breakfast programme Sir Richard said it is "critical that they know they can do incredible things here in New Zealand. And our case, less than 15-minutes from the university where we studied".

"It's an incredible country that allows you to live your dreams and fulfill opportunities - that otherwise you may not be able to get in a bigger pool," he said.

The Weta Workshop founder was crowned New Zealander of the Year at a gala dinner in Auckland and used his acceptance speech to pay tribute to the creative industries.

Weta employs more than a thousand people, earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year and has scooped numerous Oscars for its special effects.

At the ceremony Sir Richard said he had to learn a lot about the industry from when he first moved to Wellington at the age of 17.

"I didn't appreciate television series were filmed in sets built specifically for the show," he said.

"I literally thought Close To Home was filmed in people's houses in Lower Hutt so it's been quite an education along the way."

Shining example

Sir Richard was described as an extraordinary New Zealander, who set a shining example by being a global player in the international movie industry, but choosing to base himself in New Zealand.

He told Breakfast that communities, councils and governments seem to acknowledge the creative industries are going to play a major part in the country's future.

"Our intelligent thinking and our creative ability can have a huge impact taking our brand out to the world," said Sir Richard. "We find that the support and encouragement that we get from those groups is second to none."

Sir Richard said since Lord of the Rings, Weta has opened up a number of different business opportunities, and that they hope to continue on the path of diversification.

"The new world is unfolding in front of us where there's cross media opportunities and fool be us if we can't stay ahead of it," he said.

The Wellingtonian beat Doctor Sharad Paul, a skin cancer specialist who also runs a bookstore that benefits low decile schools, and Dame Suzie Moncrieff, who started the World of Wearable Art competition.

Meanwhile, Sam Johnson, the face of the Canterbury Student Volunteer Army that helped with the Canterbury quake clean up won the young New Zealander of the year.

In accepting the award, Johnson paid tribute to the hundreds of students who were part of the army - saying they are his heroes.

The 23-year-old travelled to Japan after their major earthquake and tsunami to help universities there set up similar armies to help with the clean-up.

- with Newstalk ZB

 

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