Sir Peter Jackson might not have been a New Zealander if not for the courage and tenacity of Kiwi soldiers in World War I.
The Lord of the Rings director said his British grandfather, William John Jackson, developed a respect for the Kiwi character while fighting alongside the Anzacs at Gallipoli.
When Sir Peter’s father emigrated to New Zealand years later, his decision was influenced by the stories he had been told about the country’s inhabitants.
“My dad always told me that the principal reason he chose New Zealand to emigrate to after World War II was the high regard his father had for the Kiwis he encountered at Gallipoli,” Sir Peter told the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
William Jackson, the grandfather Sir Peter never met, won a Distinguished Conduct Medal at Gallipoli, and fought in most major battles of World War I. He died in 1940, aged 51.
He was lucky to survive. The death toll was horrific.
Why does the world biggest country pay so much attention to such a small country as New Zealand?
Before the changing of the guard in the Beijing leadership last month, of the nine former members of the powerful group Standing committee of the Politburo, seven had visited New Zealand.
The only other country to receive such a concentration high-level visits is said to be Singapore.
The new Standing Committee has been reduced to seven and only two have been to New Zealand, but the most important two, the President Xi Jinping (three times) and the Premier Li Leqiang in 2009 both in former capacities.
New Zealand has had annual talks with Beijing for some time. Australia has just got them this week.
Prime Minister John Key is being accorded time with both the Premier and President this trip.
So why does one of the smallest countries in the world have such a good relationship with the largest country in the world?
New Zealand is also small enough for China to test out ideas without complications, such as the joint aid project to provide Rarotonga with clean water. …
China is usually secretive and defensive about its aid budget. The Cook Islands joint aid venture is a first for them.
I wasn’t aware of that. The Pacific was in danger of becoming an arena for competing aid diplomacy. A co-operative approach is in fact much better for the Pacific.
One of the least recognised reasons China is so well disposed to New Zealand is the late Rewi Alley, the New Zealander who lived in China for 60 years helping to establish co-operatives -though these day the most famous Kiwi is probably Sir Peter Jackson.
Three cheers for Sir Peter Jackson. He’s done it again. Another blockbuster movie. Made right here in New Zealand.
Sir Peter proves anything is possible. I would never have believed that a Kiwi down in New Zealand could make blockbuster movies. Not just blockbuster movies but movies that bust the Hollywood block.
Sir Peter’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was the biggest movie project ever undertaken. The trilogy grossed $3 billion at the box office. It won 17 Academy awards. The final in the series, Return of the King, won 11 Oscars, tying it withBen Hur and Titanic for the most Academy Awards ever.
The Hobbit is even bigger. And, again, Sir Peter has delivered.
I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of The Unexpected Journey. The crowd and the enthusiasm for the movie was incredible. It wasn’t just hype. The stars were genuinely overcome by their reception. And their warmth for New Zealand, and for working with Sir Peter, was real. It was a tremendous feeling to be there.
I doubt there is any other city, where a significant proportion of the population would turn up for a movie premiere!
James Cameron, director of Avatar and Titanic, attended. He said the The Hobbit sets a new movie-making standard.
He also had this to say about Sir Peter, elevating the movie industry in New Zealand to a global level: “It’s really only happened a couple of times before, in Los Angeles and maybe London. It’s the first time it’s been done by a single film-maker.”
Jackson’s contribution to New Zealand, and especially Wellington, is almost unprecedented for an individual. I believe his legacy will outlive him and Wellington (and NZ) is well placed to continue as a moviemaking city, even when Jackson is not making films himself.
It’s easy for us to have an inferiority complex. Ours is a small country a long way from the rest of the world. We can easily believe we can’t do as well as the rest of the world. The rest of the world seems richer, bigger and closer to the action.
But Sir Peter proves that wrong. He entered one of the biggest, toughest industries in the world and did it bigger and better than anyone else.
We no longer suffer the tyranny of distance. And, yes, ours is a small population, but that no longer hampers us because now the entire world is only a nanosecond away.
Jackson can be finalising a film on the Sunday, and have it transmitted to Hollywood within a couple of hours.
Oh, The Hobbit has had its share of knockers – political activists, unionists, Peta, the disgruntled and the envious. Our biggest impediment may be the tall-poppy syndrome. But we shouldn’t let nagging ninnies blind us to achievement and opportunity.
Indeed, the Hobbit haters have had their share of publicity. For me, I can’t wait to see the film – especially at the faster frame rate.
Hasn’t the plethora of anti Peter Jackson stories in recent weeks been a great example of the NZ tall poppy syndrome.
What a pity that there haven’t been stories interviewing people who have worked with Jackson recently. I recall at the public rally in Wellington to stop the unions moving The Hobbit offshore, how so many people got up and spoke of what it was like to work with Jackson. They spoke of his qualities as both a director and a human being.
Of course Jackson is not universally popular with every person he has ever known or worked with. Who is? But everything I have heard is he is held in far higher esteem personally by those who work with him than almost all other directors and producers of his caliber.
Animal wranglers involved in the making of “The Hobbit” movie trilogy say the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals, largely because they were kept at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other “death traps.” …
The Hobbit production has always instituted swift and immediate investigations in to any concerns of any kind over the treatment of animals under its care. A prompt and thorough investigation into the recent unsubstantiated allegations by the American organisation, PETA, in to the ‘hobbling’ of a horse during the making of The Hobbit was undertaken. No evidence of such a practice was found to have occurred at any time. Further, the production contacted the owner of the horse concerned who provided the following statement: “I am 100% happy with the return of Shanghai and his condition. In the term that he was leased he was picked up and returned to me two times. On both occasions there was not a mark on him and he was healthy and happy. He has shown no signs of ill-treatment. I would not hesitate in leasing him to the movie again.”
To date, the only horse wranglers whose treatment of animals fell below the production’s standard of care seem to be the two wranglers who have chosen to level this new accusation on the eve of the premiere of the first Hobbit film and who were dismissed by the production over a year ago. Reports of their actions are documented in several written statements dating back to October 2011.
Dr Julia Bryce, Vet:
“From December 2010 till July 2012, this practice was the primary Veterinary care giver for the horses and livestock in the care of “Three Foot Seven”.
During this period we were consulted promptly in cases of injury and illness. We were also consulted routinely about ongoing veterinary care and preventative medicine.
If referral was required to a specialist clinic or Massey Equine Clinic, this occurred promptly. As occurs in normal practice there are incidences and injury which may result in an unfavourable outcome and others that recover completely; like the young goat who fractured a front leg but recovered completely after 6 weeks in a cast and hospital rest, or the rooster who spent two weeks at our clinic with a foot infection.
These and other animals in the care of Three Foot Seven Limited received the best available treatment to ensure their recovery, their welfare and return to good health was paramount to those in charge. At no time were we concerned about the welfare and on-going treatment of animals under our care.”
Joy Gray, farmer:
“I was appalled to hear of the wild claims being made in the media by PETA. I and my family own the farm which the Hobbits used to train their animals. Myself, my manager, my children and grand-children saw nothing to make us uncomfortable or give us cause for concern. We all had totally free access to all activities at all times. In fact, the animals were wonderfully looked after, being well-fed, well-housed, and well-treated. As both farmers and dedicated horse people ourselves we would have stood for nothing less. I myself ride horses, all my children rode competitively and now my grandchildren ride.
I was involved in Pony Club for many years and was District Commissioner for the Wellington Pony Club. My manager was totally aware of all that was happening with the Hobbits and he is outraged at these false claims.
And Jed Brophy who played Nori:
“As an actor and animal trainer who has worked on large scale productions here in New Zealand, in particular The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and more recently, The Hobbit, I am flabbergasted to read this morning of the accusations levelled at the production by PETA. With a production as large as The Hobbit, filmed over such an extensive period the care of the animals used in filming was exceptional. The entire time we were on set, and when we were training with the animal wranglers employed to look after and train the animals for filming, I observed no mistreatment – in fact the opposite is true. …
I feel that there is a certain amount of personal vindictiveness levelled at the production from individuals with their own agenda. As is often the case in these situations, organisations will leap at the chance to gain publicity for their cause without seeking the truth. Being an experienced horseman and having worked as a wrangler and rider in the past, I would not have allowed myself to be a part of any production that knowingly employed unsafe practice in the workplace in this way. I can say with absolute certainty the production went out of their way to treat animals with the upmost respect and care.”
Basically it seems a couple of horses died after falling down a ledge. It’s sad, but it is a world away from mistreatment.
I’ve now got a copy of the full release from Peter Jackson regarding the 17 August global boycott letter, and a copy of the letter itself. Read them both carefully and then try telling me this is not the cause of what happened.
Sir Peter Jackson today released a letter which he said proved the actors’ unions had already decided to blacklist The Hobbit before requesting a conversation with him.
The letter, from The International Federation of Actors, was sent to the US directors of production company 3 Foot 7 Ltd on August 17, warning that the federation had instructed its members no to act in the film until the producers had entered into bargaining with the union.
Sir Peter said that letter was the first time he had been made aware of the issue.
“It was the first time a meeting was ever requested and it was clear from the letter they had already voted to blacklist us, before even asking for one conversation with me,” he said.
“I am sick and tired of hearing [union NZ Actors] Equity say ‘All we ever wanted was a meeting’, because it’s disingenuous. They fail to add that from the outset, they had a gun to our head.”
“It just made me incredibly angry, I wondered how can a union behave like this? How could Simon Whipp [Australian union representative from the Media, Entertainment & Artists' Alliance, or MEAA] initiate an international strike action against our film with no prior vote from the Kiwi membership?”
Sir Peter said he decided to release the letter after NZ Actors Equity circulated an email to its members yesterday saying all it sought was to “meet with the production and discuss the conditions under which performers would be engaged”.
“It amazes me that the executive officer of NZ Actor’s Equity can walk roughshod over our industry and the union itself fails to adhere to the most basic principles of democratic process,” he said.
“NZ Equity has given Simon Whipp absolute power and no one seems to care if he abuses it. He can threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Kiwis, jeopardise a huge financial investment to this country and he’s not held accountable. It’s unbelievable.”
So much for “We just wanted to talk”. What is also fascinating is there was no local vote in favour of a boycott it seems – Whipp instituted it presumably on his own authority, or the authority of his Australian overlords?
Sadly it looks like we will all pay the price for Mr Whipp’s actions, and end up having to give a greater subsidy to Warners. And there is absolutely no way at all that would have happened without the MEAA’s antics, as everything was set to start without disruption.
One could of course cut our nose off to spite our face, and refuse to do a sweetener to Warners. Part of me thinks we should, but really the price too pay would be far too high – we would not be losing one film, but an entire industry. I’d rather not having thousands more people unemployed and receiving welfare payments.
In a perfect world, the Government could just send MEAA a bill for the additional sweetener to Warners. They are the ones who incurred it.
If The Hobbit moves overseas, there will be a massive loss of jobs in NZ. The 2,500 for the Hobbit itself is only the start. All the other productions will stop coming here, and I imagine Weta would have a limited future.
But add onto that the lost tourism jobs and earnings. 1 in 10 tourists say the LOTR connection was a factor in choosing to come here. If Middle Earth moves to Ireland, we will lose much of that tourism.
The Herald on Sunday reports on the rallies you can go along to, to show your support for the film staying here. These are not anti-anyone rallies, but pro-Hobbit in NZ rallies.
Auckland: Queen Elizabeth II Square (opposite Britomart)
President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Helen Kelly told the Herald on Sunday she was not sorry for the dispute as it began as a simple request to negotiate conditions.
“I personally regret calling Peter Jackson a brat. That was not helpful,” said Kelly. “I shouldn’t have said that, because he is not a brat. He is clearly deeply hurt … and it’s not my style to usually get so personal.”
However, she believed most New Zealanders supported the right to collectively bargain.
God this Orewellian double-speak is getting annoying.A global boycott is not a simple request to negotiate. It is the last resort in such a negotiation – it is where you say we would rather this film never gets made at all, because the conditions on it are so bad. The irony being that the conditions are the best ever offered to NZ actors.
And secondly those actors who are members of the MEAA could always try and negotiate a collective contract on behalf of those members only. What they were not allowed to do is negotiate on behalf of all the non members, and force them into becoming union members.
Back at the Armageddon Expo, Stargate Atlantis actor Torri Higginson told the crowd it would be “insane” if The Hobbit was not filmed in New Zealand. “If anyone knows him [Peter Jackson] tell him I’ll work for free,” said Higginson. “F*** the unions.”
I suspect many actors would work for free on the film. But Jackson will not only be paying good weekly rates, he is the first Producer to offer residuals to NZ actors. How the fuck the CTU ever decided to make him public enemy number one I don’t know.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The full stupidity of the Actors’ Equity members who arranged an international boycott of The Hobbit is now apparent.
They used the nuclear bomb option in industrial negotiations. And nuclear bombs always have fall out.
What makes New Zealand unique in terms of film-making is that it is where Sir Peter lives and where, despite the blandishments of Hollywood, he has chosen to build his empire.
A film set is not like a meatworks or an old-fashioned cotton mill where workers are interchangeable. It is a place where individuals have a chance to make a difference and to be rewarded for their talents.
Members of the Australian-based Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and its local offshoot, Actors’ Equity, who do not back themselves to shine are under no compulsion to offer their services to Sir Peter. If they prefer, they are at liberty to deliver one-person shows in empty provincial theatres. But they should not seek to deny others the opportunity to build film careers or to experience the excitement of working on a project that will be seen around the world.
I love the line about empty provincial theatres!
… the Government has no choice but to step in to try to repair the damage done by the actors’ union. It is not just the future of The Hobbit that is at stake, but the future of the industry that has grown up around Sir Peter. If that requires the Government to bump up the 15 per cent tax break already available to the producers of The Hobbit, Finance Minister Bill English should get out his chequebook.
The purity of the tax system be damned. The consequences of losing an industry that has revitalised Wellington do not bear thinking about.
Losing the film will lead to a massive loss of jobs, and the taxpayer will probably end up paying even more through lost tax income and higher welfare costs. Having said that, I would much prefer the tax break not be increased.
Some lunatics think that this was all manufactured so they could get a tax break. I’d really love to meet the evil geniuses that managed to infiltrate MEAA and get them to arrange a global boycott, just so that Warners can use it as an excuse to get a bigger tax break.
Perhaps the shortfall could be made up by cutting Creative New Zealand’s theatrical budget.
Is that on top of the $44,000 I already want to cut?
To challenge a national icon you would think you would lay on a bit of charm – or just show some respect.
Kelly said: “There are still New Zealanders out there who believe that people have a right to negotiate.”
Maybe the handling of the Hobbit dispute will win the MEAA and CTU an activist award at the next Socialist International prizegiving.
But in this country they have turned a lot of people off.
Helen Kelly calling Sir Peter Jackson a spoilt brat was incredibly stupid. Peter Jackson has created more jobs for New Zealanders than possibly any other person. Once upon a time the CTU said they cared about jobs.
A furious Sir Peter Jackson will “fight as hard as he can” to keep The Hobbit in New Zealand – but is already listing key Kiwi staff to take if the two-part film goes overseas.
And the director hit back at Council of Trade Union president Helen Kelly’s claims that he had set up the actors’ union to take the blame if the US$500 million (NZ$667m) movie is lost.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time I really got very angry.”
Asked if it was fingers crossed that The Hobbit would remain, Jackson said: “I don’t know what to cross any more. I’ve just got to get some sleep. I haven’t had much sleep in the past few days.”
It was unlikely he would be able to take more than 150 Kiwi crew – compared with a minimum of 2500 he could employ here – but did not yet “have the heart” to choose who.
Sir Peter is an unlikely target for the CTU to try and make out as the super villain. Almost everyone who has worked for him raves about him, and I would speculate that he probably routinely votes Labour/Greens. He is not some uncaring distant Rupert Murdock type. So he is speaking very honestly when he says it would be heart-breaking to choose just 5% of people to take overseas.
I understand from those a bit closer to the action that he is personally very hurt by what has happened, as he has spent so much of his life creating jobs and getting better pay for NZ workers. He could have become far far richer by moving to Hollywood.
Ms Kelly cited a belief Warner had already decided to move the films for bigger tax incentives and lower wages, and Jackson – a “spoilt brat” – was trying to set the union up to blame.
Yes Sir Peter masterminded the MEAA into an international boycott to move the film overseas, despite having already spent tens of millions on preparing for the films to be shot in NZ.
With all respect Helen Kelly’s belief should be given as much weight as the beliefs of Scientologists.
Jackson described her as clueless. “Why do people like Helen Kelly have to be driven by rhetoric and playing some kind of role where she’s always got to be the victim and everyone else is to blame?
“She has tried every possible conspiracy theory. I’m expecting to be told I was on the grassy knoll in Dallas any moment now.”
Can he prove he was not?
Outrageous Fortune star and Actors’ Equity committee member Robyn Malcolm said yesterday she could not believe a request for a discussion around conditions was enough to derail the project. “We’re not even the coffee budget. Nobody wants Cate Blanchett’s salary …”
Oh you silly person you. You did not “request” a discussion. You initiated a global boycott. Do you not know the difference? It is rather huge.
Incidentally how many people were aware that the taxpayers have sunk over $48 million into keeping Ms Malcolm and others employed on Outraegous Fortune?
I’m a fan of the show, but I prefer them to do what Shortland Street does – become self sufficient after the initial years.
Remember those stories about lynch mobs and needing Police escorts. Well this video shows the lovely Simon Whipp in action, refusing to even talk politely to a questioner – definitely a violent lynch mob.
And finally the Young Nats ask about why the Wellington Mayor is missing in action. It is incredible that the new Mayor of Wellington has not been out to the media saying how crucial it is that the Hobbit be filmed here, and demanding that any obstacles to it be removed. The only person who has been even quieter than Celia has been Phil Goff.
MEAA national director Simon Whipp said actors could be let go with just one day’s notice, and there were concerns producers would not pay fees in standard union contracts, such as payments from DVD sales.
Sir Peter maintained the residuals on The Hobbit will be worth “very real money” to the Kiwi actors who are cast in the film.
“This is the first time ever NZ actors have had residuals, and we are proud that it’s being introduced on our movie. The level of residuals is better than a similar scheme in Canada, and is much the same as the UK residual scheme. It is not quite as much as the SAG rate.”
So the first ever time NZ actors will be paid residuals.
Sir Peter said fees New Zealand actors were paid favourably here compared to what they would receive overseas. An actor contracted to appear in a small supporting role would receive around NZ$5,000 per week, whereas the Screen Actor’s Guild of America’s published current minimum weekly rates for the same role is NZ$3,800, he said.
Gasp. $5,000 a week for a “small” role. This is the reality of what is being offered, while some idiot is talking about how actors could be paid $1/day and forced to work 24 hours a day.
The New Zealand Actor’s Equity, who operate as an autonomous part of the MEAA, have since acknowledged the Commerce Act prevents a union-negotiated agreement with performers who are independent contractors, following advice from the Attorney General Christopher Finlayson.
“My knowledge of the producers is that they are people of goodwill. I am sure they would want to explore all lawful means by which these issues could be moved forward and resolved.” said NZ Actors’ Equity President Jennifer Ward-Lealand.
Well if there is goodwill, why not get the MEAA to call off the global boycott, which is explicitly linked to what they now acknowledge is an illegal demand?
Sir Peter Jackson offered to go to an actors’ union meeting last night called over the Hobbit dispute, but was turned down.
Spada had attempted to meet with the MEAA to discuss actors’ terms and conditions for over 18 months, without success, he said.
The Hobbit’s producers – including Sir Peter – contacted the MEAA and NZ Actors Equity yesterday morning with an offer to attend the Wellington meeting in the hope of finding a solution to the dispute.
After sending several requests asking for a response, the producers were finally told “no” shortly before the meeting started.
“It is pity we were not given the chance to have a discussion with the actors, who are the party most affected by the MEAA’s actions,” Sir Peter said.
God forbid that the actors attending the meeting hear his point of view.
Oh well, when we no longer have a NZ film industry, I hope all the actors can get jobs working in cafes or something, so they don’t have to go on the dole.
I got sent documents over the weekend from a film industry source, detailing the outraegous behaviour of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, an Australian union.
It seems Disney has already made an unofficial decision, not to shoot anymore in New Zealand, because the union unreasonable blocks immigration permits.
But what is happening with the Hobbit is even worse than that, and may lead to the shut down of much of the NZ film industry – if the Hobbit moves off shore (as reported here as likely).
This union is thought to have less than 90 members in New Zealand, and is threatening the jobs of up to 3,000 people. How do they have such power?
The International Federation of Actors (FIA), of which the vast majority of performer unions around the world are members, resolved that the time had come for performers around the world to support their colleagues in New Zealand and seek a union contract for all performers on The Hobbit.
Yes, this Australian union has arranged a global boycott of the Hobbit.
And what are they calling for?
“Resolved, that the International Federation of Actors urges each of its affiliates to adopt instructions to their members that no member of any FIA affiliate will agree to act in the theatrical film The Hobbit until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance for production in New Zealand providing for satisfactory terms and conditions for all performers employed on the productions.”
And here is the irony.It is illegal for Peter Jackson to do what they call for. Why? Under the current law, only a registered union can enter into a collective contract, and the MEAA is not a registered NZ union.
The Employment Relations Act states a NZ union, must be an incorporated society under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. The MEAA is not. Screen Hub reports:
NZ Actors’ Equity is a trade union in NZ, an affiliate member of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) under its MEAA name. It was struck off the Ministry of Economic Development’s (MED) Register of Incorporated Societies last week under its registered name of Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
So there is no legal entity to negotiate with.
The union has called a meeting tomorrow to discuss their action. It is:
Tuesday, September 28 at 7pm, at Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn
I hope lots of media attend, and ask questions about why this Australian uion has arranged a global boycott of The Hobbit, on the basis of an illegal demand.
Peter Jackson makes the point:
In a four-page statement last night, the usually media-shy Jackson said he was a “very proud and loyal member” of three Hollywood unions and “not anti-union in the slightest”.
He always honoured actors’ union conditions if they were union members, and the MEAA had a clear agenda “based on money and power”.
“I can’t see beyond the ugly spectre of an Australian bully-boy using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country’s film industry. They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance.
“I feel growing anger at the way this tiny minority is endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years, and the thousands about to be employed for the next four years, [and] the hundreds of millions of Warner Brothers dollars that is about to be spent in our economy.”
And some useful quotes from Screen Hub:
According to one producer Screen Hub spoke to, the Equity/MEAA approach is akin to sending out suicide bombers. If inbound production diminishes or disappears from our shores, actors will lose work along with everybody else. Given the reliance on inbound production to sustain much of the industry in terms of day-to-day employment of contractors, “We might as well pack up and go home,” said one film industry lawyer.
If this Australian union manages to kill off the NZ film industry, where do you think some of these films may end up? Australian perhaps?
The top honour of membership of the Order of New Zealand goes to Helen Clark. In some ways, it is no surprise, as former PMs David Lange, Mike Moore and Jim Bolger were also made ONZ, and Don McKinnon also is a member for holding high international office.
So it was inevitable Clark would be made a member, but so soon after she left office will leave a sour taste for many. One right wing friend commented:
What the fuck Farrar? First a UN appointment now this!!!
Next Key will name a star in her fucking honour and have her face on the new flag.
Personally I’m still more upset by Cullen being appointed to an SOE Board while an MP.
We have one new Dame, and five Knights.
Aucklanders will know Dame Lesley Max well.
Professor Sir Mason Durie is one of the most prominent Maori health professionals.
Sir Peter Jackson may not have got the tax breaks he wants for the film industry, but he is now KNZM. He has said this award surpassed winning the Oscars. I suspect he would not have said this, had titles for the top honours not been restored. I am so pleased the Government did restore titles.
Sir Douglas Myers recognition is long overdue.
Justice Sir Bruce Robertson is a former President of the Law Commission and current Court of Appeal judge.
Finally it is honorary but nice to see recognition of the amazingly generous philanthropy of Sir Julian Robertson. Robertson first visited New Zealand in the 1950s to spend a year here writing a novel. He obviously fell in love with it. In May 2009 he announced the donation of $115 million of art to the Auckland Art Gallery – the single largest gift ever in Australasia.
Won’t comment on the entire list, but also worth mentioning former Auditor-General Kevin Brady who is made a CNZM. He was the public service at its finest as he stood up to Parliament and insisted that their funding of various pledge cards and the like was illegal.
The HoS approves of Chris Finlayson’s appointment of Peter Jackson to review the Film Commission:
It’s impossible to imagine anyone better qualified to undertake a review of the New Zealand Film Commission than the country’s most prodigiously successful filmmaker, Peter Jackson. The Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson, announced this week that the maestro from Miramar will lead a ministerial review “to ensure it is best able to serve the needs of the local industry and community”.
In an ideal world, the commission would long ago have sought advice from one of the most successful filmmakers in history, especially since he is just round the corner. But that would have required some pride-swallowing – and a corporate decision to feed the hand that had bitten it.
Jackson, it will be remembered, has occasionally been a trenchant critic of the commission. He even publicly “disinvited” its then chief executive Ruth Harley and chairman Barrie Everard to the Wellington premiere of part two of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, calling them “self-serving bureaucrats”.
Jackson is not a diplomat.
The terms of reference are a mixture of bureaucratspeak (“facilitative role”; “cultural content objectives”) and noble-sounding phraseology, which are unlikely to bog down Jackson, who is a plain speaker and a man of action. The fact that he is charged with working out how “active industry professionals” can be more involved in setting the commission’s direction is heartening. And it is something he has plainly taken on board: pointedly, he has said he will consult local filmmakers, “so the review reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writers, producers and directors the commission was created to support”.
Bottom up consultation – always good.
Assuming that the review is sincerely motivated and that the Government is not looking for findings that will justify later funding cuts, Jackson’s presence is encouraging. The prolific moviemaker is not notably short of things to do, so he plainly thinks he has something to offer and will tackle the review with the passion and vision that are his trademarks.
The commission is now more than 30 years old: as John Barnett remarked this week, when it was established movies screened with intermissions and no one used the word “digital”. It is high time for a rethink – and there is no better man to be doing the rethinking.
The good thing about having Jackson do the review, is it will be almost impossible for the Government to ignore.