Sir Peter Jackson says receiving New Zealand's highest honour was a more formal affair than the "fluff'' of the Oscars - but both awards are likely share the same shelf at home.

The acclaimed director received the insignia of the Order of New Zealand, whose membership is limited to 20 people at one time, at an investiture ceremony at Government House in Wellington this morning.

Sir Peter was made an additional member of the order in the Queen's Birthday honours last year, two years after being knighted for his services to film.

He received the insignia today from Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who, in a rare move, singled out Sir Peter in his closing remarks.


Sir Jerry said the Order of NZ was special because a member's estate had to return the badge after death. It was then passed on to the next recipient, which meant the badge established a whakapapa of its own.

"The badge presented to Sir Peter has not been awarded before and so, Sir Peter, from today it is starting to accumulate its story, its heritage and its status and mana.''

Sir Peter, who turned and waved to the crowd after receiving the insignia, said it was an incredible honour. The ceremony itself was very different to the Oscars, which was "a lot of fluff, really''.

"It's very different - the Oscars have a little bit more glamour, if you like, a bit more glitz and glamour. This is obviously much more formal.''

Sir Peter promised to take good care of the insignia, which he plans to put on the same shelf as "various bits and pieces'', including his Oscars.

He quipped that his children needed to know where to find it.

"But I do hope to hang onto it for quite a long time - fingers crossed.''

Sir Peter hoped the honour would inspire young children who were interested in a career in the arts or film.

He was currently in the thick of work on the second Hobbit film, with several more weeks of editing and special effects to go.

"I'm going to race home after this, throw this stuff off, get my proper clothes on and we're going to be in the cutting room probably late tonight.''

But while he was consumed with work on The Hobbit, he would not rule out the possibility of directing an episode of sci-fi television show Doctor Who - which is run by friend and Tintin collaborator Steven Moffatt - if his schedule allowed.

"I'd definitely be very keen on doing one, but there certainly isn't anything set in concrete at this stage.''

Also honoured for services to arts today was Book Council chairman and former Arts Council chairman Peter Biggs - an ex-Wellingtonian who now heads advertising firm Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne.

Mr Biggs said he felt proud to be made a companion of the Order of New Zealand. His proudest achievement was the six years he chaired the Arts Council - and he was also loving his role with the Book Council.

"New Zealand literature is so strong at the moment and there's just such a depth of talent in New Zealand writing.''

Mr Biggs agreed it was a challenge keeping up with New Zealand literature from abroad but said it was an enjoyable one.

"It's a very interesting perspective actually because you get a sense of what is very, very special about New Zealand writing - and it's extraordinary creativity, acute observation and enormous depth of talent.''

Today is the second of three days of investitures at Government House. Tomorrow's ceremonies will feature only women recipients to mark the 120th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand.