Ian Taylor says he could have ended up a washed-up rock singer if it wasn't for a meeting in 1989, which led him down the path to found his business Animation Research 30 years ago.
That meeting was with Otago University professor Geoff Wyvill who told Taylor the future was about going digital.
"I had no idea what he was talking about."
Wyvill gave Taylor his four top students and together they created a company that has revolutionised the viewing of golf, cricket, yachting, motor sport and baseball with 3D, data-driven graphics over live pictures from the Virtual Eye sports division.
"I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't met Geoff, this would never have happened."
Taylor attributes the team behind him for being made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and recognised for his services to broadcasting, business and the community.
"This would never have happened without those people."
Taylor, who describes himself as a story-teller, shared the good news with his team on Wednesday and says he wanted them to hear it from him first.
"It is just wonderful."
He will celebrate with a traditional BBQ, which he holds every New Year with friends and family in Wanaka. "We will just do what we did last year."
Taylor mulled over whether he wanted to be called "Sir" but said it came with accepting the honour.
"If you are going to say yes you have to respect the honour that it is. I'm very honoured to accept it."
But he says he has been Ian for the past 70 years and that's not likely to change.
"I imagine I will get a ribbing for a few weeks then it will go back to Ian."
Taylor was born in Northland's Kaeo in a house without power and brought up in the East Coast Raupunga community of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngapuhi descent.
His path to success was far from straight-forward.
Taylor dropped out of a business degree at Victoria University in 1968 to join rock band Kal-Q-Lated Risk.
After four years with the band and a stint of compulsory army training at Waiouru, the jobless Taylor was drawn back to Dunedin. "When I had been in the Risk, we travelled all over the country and the best place we played in was Dunedin — the Ag Hall and Ocean Beach Hotel."
Taylor worked as a forklift driver at Speights Brewery. then as a presenter on the children's TV programme Play School while completing a law degree at Otago University. He was about to become a lawyer when he was offered a full-time job as a presenter on the children's magazine programme Spot On.
Taylor worked as a presenter, producer, writer and director for TVNZ between 1977 and 1989. He produced documentaries including Pieces of Eight, the inside story of the New Zealand Rowing Eight at the 1984 Olympic Games; Aramoana, a documentary told by those directly involved in the David Gray shootings; and Innocent Until, the inside story of the defence team for David Bain at his first trial.
In 1989 Taylor was offered a current affairs job in Wellington but couldn't bring himself to leave Dunedin. Instead, he formed Taylormade Productions, making regional television commercials and corporate videos.
When TVNZ closed its Dunedin studios, Taylor bought them with a $500,000 bank loan and made children's television shows.
Animation Research was founded when Taylor met Wyvill who ran the Computer Science Department and computer graphics laboratory at Otago University.
Taylormade Productions formed Animation Research with the university in one of the first attempts to turn academic intellectual property into a commercial activity, and then later Taylormade bought all the university shares.
The original students, Craig McNaughton, Paul Sharp and Stu Smith, are still working at Animation Research 30 years later.
Its first TV advertising images included the Bluebird water-skiing penguin, seagulls on a Cook Strait fast ferry, and gannets forming a koru.
This year the business had to tackle the issue of not being able to travel to sports tournaments and can now cover sport remotely from Dunedin.
Animation Research received the award for "outstanding new approaches in sports broadcasting" at the 2015 Sports Emmy Awards for their development of the America's Cup mobile application.
Taylor was named the 2019 New Zealand Innovator of the Year and in 2020 was awarded the Deloitte Top 200 Visionary Leader.
He is now focused on "Tech for Good", which is developing technology tools for use in education and healthcare and has played a key role in a collaboration between Dunedin Methodist Church and Animation Research to create virtual learning environments for prison inmates.
For the Tuia 250 commemorations, he developed digital simulations of the recreated ancestral voyages undertaken for the commemoration, made freely available online.
Taylor has been a board member of Māori Television, New Zealand On-Air, the New Zealand Film Commission, IT Professionals New Zealand, Dodd-Walls Centre, Callaghan Innovation and is a member of Ngā Kuitūhono, the Māori Advisory Group to NZQA.