New Zealand has a reputation for punching above its weight in many different fields, and one arena in which we deliver some knockout blows is film.

The Academy Awards is the holy grail of the filmmaking world and New Zealand filmmakers have racked up an impressive number of nominations – and wins, in a wide range of categories – from Best Film right through to Best Costume Design.

Although New Zealand won its first Oscar nearly 40 years ago, it wasn't until 1993 that we really started to work that red carpet.

That was the year that Jane Campion's The Piano was released and the world was introduced to an 11-year-old actress by the name of Anna Paquin, the first Kiwi to pick up an acting award. She won fans with her portrayal of Flora and won hearts with her endearing, breathless acceptance speech.


Watch Anna Paquin as Flora in the trailer for The Piano here.

The film's director Jane Campion was also nominated for Best Director but, alas, she didn't win. It would be another 10 years before that prestigious award was given to a Kiwi – and no surprise here – it was Sir Peter Jackson who took the honours for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Watch the trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King here:

It wasn't Sir Peter's first time at the rodeo though – he had previously been nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Heavenly Creatures – a dark little tale of a folie a deux based on the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliette Hulme who 'moidered mother' in a crime that shocked Christchurch in 1954.

Watch the trailer for Heavenly Creatures here:

Young actresses from this part of the world seem to do very well in the Oscar stakes. Following in Anna Paquin's footsteps was Keisha Castle-Hughes, nominated in the Best Actress category in 2004 for her stunning turn as Pai in Whale Rider. A role that today seems a long way from her most recent turn as a bloodthirsty killer in Game of Thrones.

See Keisha Castle Hughes in an excerpt from Whale Rider here:

And just one year later, it was Taika Waititi's turn to hit the red carpet after being nominated for his short film Two Cars One Night. The film was the second New Zealand short to get an Oscar nod and it was this poignant black and white film that launched Waititi's career.

Watch Two Cars One Night here:

Short films play a distinguished part in New Zealand's Oscar canon. In 1981, Best Short Film was awarded to The Dollar Bottom produced by Lloyd Phillips, but New Zealand had already made a mark in this category in 1964 with an Oscar nomination for One Hundred and Forty Days Under the World – a National Film Unit production that chronicles the summer polar season in Antarctica. It may not have won but the stunning scenery, even now, deserves a prize.

Watch One Hundred and Forty Days Under the World Here: