Richard Taylor named NZer of the Year
Sir Richard Taylor (AAP)
Weta Workshop head Sir Richard Taylor has gained yet another accolade: being named New Zealander of the Year.
Sir Richard helped put New Zealand on the map with special effects work on the Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
He shares in five Academy Awards for Weta's work on those films, and in 2010 he received a knighthood for services to film.
At an awards dinner on Thursday, he was named New Zealander of the Year, beating other finalists World of Wearable Arts founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff and Auckland plastic surgeon Dr Sharad Paul, who was nominated for his work on skin cancer.
The awards announcement said Sir Richard is an extraordinary New Zealander who has set a shining example by being a global player in the international movie industry, but chooses to base himself in New Zealand.
Weta employs more than 1000 people, with revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Sir Richard is committed to New Zealand, and showing New Zealanders "that we can do it here".
Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson was named Young New Zealander of the Year for his work helping organise students to clean up the streets of Christchurch following major earthquakes.
He had also helped set up a similar scheme in Japan following its devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Dunedin social entrepreneur Malcolm Cameron was named Senior New Zealander of the Year for the Malcam Charitable Trust, which provides youth development programs, while Hastings anti-violence campaigner Henare O'Keefe won the Local Heroes Award.
Paeroa won Community of the Year for work by volunteers who helped keep the community safe and vibrant.
Each winner received a trophy and $5000 towards their work.