By Merepeka Raukawa-Tait
Comment: We may have perfected the Number-8 wire mentality over the last 100 years but as a country, we've thankfully moving past that now.
We still improvise, fix stuff and enjoy innovative DIY projects but New Zealand businesses are not standing still. Some are choosing another path.
They are embracing new business models, the latest technology used in manufacturing and they're honing entrepreneurial skills for use in many sectors.
Each week we hear stories of businesses finding success not just in New Zealand but overseas as well. The world always was our oyster. Hell, we even send rockets into the sky.
It always comes down to someone daring to dream. Believing it before they see it. This was brought home to me this week when I had the opportunity to visit the Weta Workshop in Miramar, Wellington. A small private showing with just a dozen other people.
I came away marvelling at this New Zealand business. It has the enviable reputation of being the best in the world at what they do. How's that? You can't get better than that.
When businesses from around the world seek you out because they know you'll deliver exactly what they want you're in a class of your own.
The Weta story is heart-warming. The business was started by Sir Richard Taylor and his partner Tania Rodger in their home in Wellington in 1987. Weta wanted to produce special effects for film companies. Unique characters and creatures. Distinctive costumes, armour and weapons. It was Peter Jackson's film trilogy The Lord of the Rings that really set them up. Brought them to the attention of filmmakers the world over.
The director who showed us around said the most important aspect of their work was concept design. This had to be spot on. It took hundreds of drawings to create the desired look of the characters and creatures wanted for a film.
They work with resin, rubber, polyurethane, foam, plastic, iron, wood and other material I hadn't heard of before. Currently, they employ about 400 creative people. Seventy per cent of their staff are New Zealanders. Luckily for us, Weta has resisted the temptation to shift their operation offshore.
It's not as if they haven't been asked to move to the United States a number of times. They have. But they have proven it is possible to create a world-class business in New Zealand and have it remain here. The temptation to move offshore must have been great.
So many New Zealanders, their staff and other businesses have Weta to thank for thinking not just about themselves and their own business interests but also about the wider community benefits that derive from their unselfish decision to remain in New Zealand.
I marvelled at the props and costumes we saw and touched. The number of films they worked on over the years was mind-blowing including Blade Runner, Thor, Thunderbirds, BFG, Mad Max, The Hobbit, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Godzilla, Tintin, District 9, Robin Hood and a raft of others. Their work is in demand all around the world.
We were told that within 1km of the Weta Workshop you can make a whole film from start to finish. Everything is there in Miramar: Weta Digital, The Workshop, Stone Street Studios, Park Road Post. Around 2000 people are employed in these businesses.
Sir Richard Taylor was knighted in 2003. Deservedly so. He and Sir Peter Jackson have demonstrated they can stand alongside any business, anywhere in the world, knowing they're not just good at what they do they're great at what they do. They let nothing hold them back least of all the small inconvenience of being at the bottom of the world. They continue to do us proud.
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a Rotorua district councillor, Lakes District Health Board member and chairs the North Island Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart political correctness