15 Jan 2013

Government defends Hobbit subsidies

8:28 am on 15 January 2013

The Government is defending its estimate of the number of jobs created by subsidising the production of the Hobbit films.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has accused Prime Minister John Key of having no idea how many jobs were created, citing emails between John Key's office and Wingnut Films.

An email written in October 2011 said Mr Key wanted to be able say something like about 3000 people would work on the Hobbit movies. Wingnut replied that was a good number.

Mr Peters said the figure was plucked out of thin air and questioned how many extra jobs were created as a result of a $67 million subsidy.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told Radio New Zealand's Summer Report that Wingnut Films provided a breakdown of the figure.

"We have a thousand at the studio, a thousand at Weta Digital and nearing a thousand across Weta Workshop, Park Road Post, related companies and casual contractors."

Mr Joyce said he did not know how many of the jobs existed before the Hobbit films were made.

"What I do know is all three of those organisations would be considerably smaller today, if existing at all, if those movies weren't being made here."

Mr Joyce says further jobs were created supplying and servicing the production team and the films provided a wider benefit to tourism and New Zealand's international profile.