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Wellington’s moviemaking ‘heartware’ showcased on US news show

3 Nov 2015

Over 1.6 million ABC News viewers in the US learned last week that Wellington’s world-leading movie success was about “heartware”, not hardware, according to Weta Workshop founder Sir Richard Taylor.

ABC Weta Feature

Interviewed as part of extended feature on New Zealand’s epic movie-making expertise, Sir Richard also noted that within a five minute radius of his Weta headquarters in Miramar, there was all the infrastructure necessary to make a movie as large as any blockbuster feature film in the world.

Under the title ‘Empire on the rise’, the feature described New Zealand’s Wellington-centred film-making as “the unlikely pinnacle of movie technology and art”. Sir Richard Taylor referenced our unique “heartware” as key to how Wellington’s Oscar-winning screen creatives have been able to succeed so far from Hollywood.

A teaser about “Hollywood’s biggest secret world” was also posted to the show’s 1.4 million Twitter followers.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) Chief Executive Chris Whelan said Sir Richard’s observation showcased the distinctive spirit and passion of Wellingtonians.

“Wellingtonians have the talent to compete internationally in a number of fields. Our biggest successes come from galvanising those strengths with a single-minded passion and commitment. As global leaders in their field, Sir Richard and his team at Weta demonstrate that there really is no limit to our potential.”

Mr Whelan said the Wellington screen industry’s success is good for a range of globally-minded Wellington businesses.

“The investment, expertise and technology that flows through Miramar’s film institutions feeds into businesses throughout the region. Their international success is also a fantastic advertisement for Wellington’s hi-tech, digital and creative capabilities. For Wellington businesses seeking access to global talent, investment and markets it’s a part of our ‘brand story’ that’s recognised and admired around the world.”

The latest figures from Statistics New Zealand’s Screen Industry Survey show Wellington continues to be the film hub of New Zealand, contributing 79 percent ($645 million) of all feature film revenue. 

David Perks, Chief Executive of Positively Wellington Tourism, a business unit of WREDA, says Wellington’s screen sector is an important contributor to the tourism industry.

“The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies have undoubtedly contributed to the 40% rise in Wellington’s international guest nights since 2001. As the ABC feature shows, Wellington’s film story also goes far beyond Middle-earth. Wellington’s screen sector is a powerhouse of global film creativity, having notably contributed to five of the top 20 grossing films of all time. Our unique film story remains highly appealing to international visitors, and is an important tourism driver for Wellington.”

Weta Workshop General Manager David Wilks was also very pleased with the ABC feature,

“This is terrific coverage for Weta Workshop and the Weta Group of Companies. Our team here on the Peninsula work hard to take Wellington to the world.  Stories like this one, airing to such a large American audience, are great news.”

The feature can be viewed on the ABC News website.


  • The Wellington screen sector generated $712 million in revenue in 2014. (Statistics New Zealand)
  • Weta Workshop has won 5 Academy Awards and 4 BAFTAs (
  • The USA is Wellington’s 4th biggest international visitor market, after Australia, Europe and the UK (MBIE International Visitor Survey)
  •  The estimated 53,5888 annual visits from the USA make up an 8.5% of Wellington’s total international visits (MBIE IVS)
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