31 Dec 2019

New Year Honours: John Barnett recognised for services to film and television

8:22 am on 31 December 2019

There's no stopping for New Zealand's leading and newly honoured film and television producer.

No caption

Photo: Provided

After 45 years in the industry John Barnett has been made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film and television.

Known for his work on Sione's Wedding, Shortland Street and Whale Rider, he said it has always been fun, and never much like work.

Barnett said he has stood on the shoulders of great people and been supported to get to this point, but he is very proud to achieve the honour.

He said over his career, Whale Rider was one of his greatest achievements.

"You love all the children that you make but certainly the world-wide success of Whale Rider has been enormously satisfying.

"We didn't expect that it would have a success that it did, I never had any doubt that it would resonate with people, and that the story was an international story, but the way that it was taken up and accepted by the world was very gratifying."

It's still New Zealand's most successful international film, 18 years on, Barnett said.

Alongside his internationally acclaimed films, Barnett championed projects that introduced New Zealand's Māori, Pacific and Asian populations, as well as establishing Sundance Channel (now Rialto), the first art house film station.

He ran South Pacific Studios for 23 years, before selling up.

"But I'm not stopping," he said.

With some new projects in the wings, Barnett said he would be busy, also helping new production companies find their feet and realise their potential.

Barnett is also Trustee of the New Zealand Film Heritage Trust, the Auckland Hospital Charitable Trust, Auckland Health Foundation, and Te Urungi o Ngāti Kuri.

Read more here:

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs