AUT’s Supreme Award was jointly given to filmmakers Sir Peter Jackson and Lady Fran Walsh, the first time the top honour was held by joint recipients.
Sir Peter thanks Kea and AUT for honouring his partnership with Lady Fran, who’s partnership their whole careers have gotten them to where they are now. As a filmmaker, the ability to make people laugh at the same place and cry at the same place makes the big wide world seem like a very small place. As a World Class New Zealander he is proud to draw attention to New Zealand and inspire the world, not as separate countries but as one global community.
The pair are “two of New Zealand's biggest household names, both locally and around the globe. They're quiet achievers, who, despite having achieved phenomenal success within their industry, remain two of the most charmingly humble people you could ever hope to meet. Their work has continually showcased our beautiful country to the world - serving not only to drive our reputation as a top tourist destination, but also as a location of choice for the film industry." said Kea New Zealand chief executive Craig Donaldson.
Sir Peter Jackson had an early love and fascination with filmmaking whilst Lady Fran started her career as a musician and screenwriter. The duo began working together as part of the quartet of writers behind Meet the Feebles (1989), a puppet satire which has since garnered a cult following. Following this, they co-wrote Braindead, which won a NZ Film Award for Best Screenplay, also shared with Stephen Sinclair.
The release of Heavenly Creatures in 1994 marked a big break for both their careers. The film received considerable critical acclaim, nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, and taking home a Silver Lion for Sir Peter and Lady Fran at the Venice Film Festival.
Paving the way to Hollywood, they took on one of the biggest and most ambitious projects ever - The Lord of the Rings trilogy. All signs were pointing to horrendous box office losses, but the films went on to become a mammoth critical and commercial success. The pair garnered hundreds of nominations and wins including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Writing and Best Music at the Academy Awards.
Their success led to collaborations for King Kong (2005), The Lovely Bones (2009) and The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014). Their next film Mortal Engines is due for release in 2018.
In 2002, Sir Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film, and in 2010, promoted to King Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2012, Sir Peter was honoured with New Zealand's highest civilian honour, being inducted as a Member of the Order of New Zealand.
In 2002, Lady Fran was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. A number of New Zealand universities including Massey University and Victoria University have also awarded her with honorary degrees.
The World Class New Zealand Awards are New Zealand's most prestigious individual achievement awards, Kea’s World Class New Zealand Awards recognise inspirational, world leading Kiwis and friends who are making outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s economic, social and cultural development.
2017 was another spectacular awards night held at a sold-out Viaduct Events Centre. The black-tie gala dinner was a golden opportunity to meet and network with New Zealand’s most influential business people, entrepreneurs and Government leaders.