Sir Peter Jackson's value to New Zealand cinema has been challenged by one of Kiwi film's founding fathers.

Geoff Murphy, who directed Goodbye Pork Pie and Utu during the 1980s, says Sir Peter's success has not helped New Zealand cinema and that The Lord of the Rings director is more businessman than artist.

In a memoir released next week and in an interview in today's Canvas magazine, Murphy heaps praise on Sir Peter's technical abilities as a director but is critical of the types of films he makes and says they have nothing to do with New Zealand's national cinema.

"I think he's an industrialist. It's got nothing to do with what I want to do, and nothing to do with what interests me, and it's nothing to do with New Zealand national cinema at all."


Murphy worked as second unit director on Sir Peter's The Lord of the Rings trilogy and he and Sir Peter were both made icons of the arts by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand in 2013, something Murphy now questions.

"My reaction to Peter Jackson is really my reaction to them sanctifying him - if he farts it makes the front page of the f***ing newspaper," he says in Canvas.

Director Sir Peter Jackson poses in front of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Director Sir Peter Jackson poses in front of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

"I didn't mind him being made a Sir, I objected to him being made an icon of the arts, because I don't think his film-making is art. I thought he should have been made an icon of industry or something ... "

In his memoir A Life On Film, published on Thursday, Murphy says Sir Peter has "formidable arrays of skills", but he did not think Sir Peter has ever made a film he would have been interested in making.

Matthew Dravitzki, a spokesman for Sir Peter, says Murphy's comments were "one man's opinion". Sir Peter declined a Weekend Herald request to discuss Murphy's views.

Murphy, who retired a decade ago after 40-odd years in film-making, directed 17 feature films during his career and helped write over 50 scripts. He won a best director award for The Quiet Earth in 1987 and was made an ONZM last year.

Sir Peter, who was promoted to knight companion in 2010, has made 15 feature films and has won three Oscars, including one for best director for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003.