Oscar-winning special effects wizard Richard Taylor was last night named supreme winner at the 2009 World Class New Zealand Awards held in Auckland.

Taylor co-founded special effects company Weta Workshop in 1994, along with three others including film director Peter Jackson.

Taylor has won five Oscars during a career that has included working on well-known films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and Heavenly Creatures.

Ivan Moss, chief executive of awards co-presenter Kea New Zealand, said the awards celebrated the success and talent of New Zealanders on the world stage.

"Richard Taylor is a wonderful example of a world-renowned New Zealander whose achievements, creative talent and entrepreneurial skill place him amongst the world's best," Moss said.

"With outstanding ability to create unique concepts and turn them into stunning reality, he is a true champion of New Zealand."

The criteria for the awards, which are now in their sixth year, have a focus on promoting New Zealand

internationally, building global connections, and facilitating the exchange of information, knowledge and skills from and about the country.

Chairman of judges and Kea co-founder Stephen Tindall said the awards had a key role to play in identifying and celebrating leaders who were successful on the world stage.

"As Kiwis we need to embrace

success and encourage our young people to strive for it," Tindall said. "What better way than by showcasing and honouring world class New Zealanders?"

The awards were presented by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Kea New Zealand.

THE WINNERS
2009 World Class New Zealand Awards

* Richard Taylor, supreme winner.
* Ray Avery, biotechnology.
* John Buchanan, finance, investment and business services.
* Jane Hunter, manufacturing.
* Peter Hunter, research, science, technology and academia.
* Phillip Mills, new thinking.
* Craig Nevill-Manning, information and communications technology.
* Karen Walker, creative industries.