4 Jul 2013

Campion pays tribute to father

10:36 pm on 4 July 2013

Acclaimed New Zealand film-maker Jane Campion says she could never have achieved her success without her father and mentor Richard Campion, who died on Tuesday.

Mr Campion was 89 and had been in ill-health for some time. He has been described as a pioneer of professional theatre in New Zealand by many who knew and worked with him.

Jane Campion won an Oscar for best screenplay for her 1993 movie The Piano and is the only woman to have won a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In May this year, she received the Carrosse d'Or (Golden Coach) at Cannes, a tribute by the Film Directors Society to reward innovative qualities, courage and independent-mindedness in directing.

Ms Campion told Radio New Zealand on Thursday that her father was an incredibly influential man.

"When I was little I watched him working on plays with different actors and just saw how he coaxed performances out. I saw his Waitangi rehearsal with all the Maori actors and that was a big influence on me - feeling like I could do something like The Piano."

Together with his first wife Edith, Mr Campion founded The New Zealand Players, the first professional theatre company in the country. He was also a founding member of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's board of directors and helped establish the National Youth Drama School.

In 2004, he became an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the theatre.

Wellington actor and director Ray Henwood said Mr Campion was wonderful to work with and very keen on New Zealand writing.

Richard Campion will be farewelled at a small family service on Friday. He is survived by his second wife, Judith Campion, a son and another daughter.