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National recognition for Sue Paterson, as Senior NZer of the Year

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Sue Paterson has been named as Senior New Zealander of the Year.

The official announcement states:

A passionate and proud New Zealander, Sue Paterson has played a vital role in sharing Aotearoa’s arts and culture both in her local community of Wellington and to visitors from all over the world.

Sue was general manager of the Royal New Zealand Ballet from 1999-2006 and turned the company around both in popularity to audiences and financial revenue. In 2004 she received an Order of New Zealand Merit for services to ballet.

With 30 years of event management experience in the cultural sector, she was the executive director of the New Zealand Festival from 2009 until earlier this year. In her eight years, she has delivered four iconic festivals celebrating the arts here in Aotearoa and in 2014 she was named Best Event Professional by the New Zealand Association of Events Professionals.

Sue is a member of the Global Women’s Network and became a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club of Wellington for her services to the community..

Taika Waititi was named New Zealander of the Year.

Chief Judge Cameron Bennett stated:

Taika Waititi is an exciting and inspiring example of who and what we are as Kiwis. Creative, courageous, audacious, subversive and downright funny, he’s at the forefront of New Zealand filmmaking and the arts.

Taika’s outstanding contribution has not only been rewarded with record box-office success at home – he’s also been highly successful in showcasing who and what we are to the world.

His films represent the importance of whanau, of belonging and the challenges facing youth at the margins of society. He’s a special talent, a huge inspiration for young, up-and-coming film directors and producers and a thoroughly worthy recipient of this year’s supreme award.

And the official biography:

Taika Waititi is a writer, director, actor, and visual artist. His contribution to New Zealand spans many years as one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent story-tellers. His films evocative and unique expression of New Zealand’s culture and identity are acclaimed domestically and internationally. His short and feature films have broken box-office records and garnered international acclaim such as the Sundance Film Festival and Academy Awards.

Waititi’s creative flair and distinctive storytelling has shown New Zealand’s unique cultural traits to millions of people. The humble and easy-going nature of his characters resonate with New Zealand and international audiences. Combined with stunning visual cues of New Zealand life and landscapes, his films epitomise what makes New Zealand a truly special place to live.

Waititi participated in the 2015 Cure Kids charity single (raising funds for research into cures and treatments for conditions affecting children) and has shown support to charities fighting child poverty. He is helping raise awareness of the lack of Māori and Pacific Island bone marrow donors, including registering himself as a donor.

Press Release – New Zealand Festival
New Zealand’s largest international arts festival, the New Zealand Festival, congratulates its former Executive Director Sue Paterson ONZM on winning the Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year Award.

The New Zealand Festival’s new Executive Director Meg Williams, who has worked with Sue for six years and began her appointment this month, says she is delighted that Sue’s commitment to growing the arts and supporting artists in New Zealand has been acknowledged with this prestigious award.

“On behalf of the Festival team and Board, I’d like to congratulate Sue on this well-deserved award. Her New Zealander of the Year award speaks not only to Sue’s outstanding work at the New Zealand Festival over the past eight years, but to four decades of service to the arts and to artists, which included leadership roles at the Royal New Zealand Ballet and Limbs Dance Company,” Meg Williams said.

Sue is well known for her support of young artists in New Zealand, and is widely credited with turning around the fortunes of New Zealand’s national ballet. Sue’s term as Executive Director at the New Zealand Festival included four biennial Festivals, five Wellington Jazz Festivals and other special events such as the hugely popular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Sue, who is to take up governance roles on boards at Wellington Zoo Trust and Wellington Free Ambulance, says she is delighted with the Awards’ recognition of contributions to the arts.

“I feel privileged to have worked with some of New Zealand’s greatest artists, and proud to have been able to secure investment to give those artists the financial freedom they need to create. I’m thrilled with this award, and congratulate Taika Waititi on taking out the top spot as overall New Zealander of the Year. The 2017 New Zealanders of the Year Awards suggest creativity and artistic talent continues to be truly valued in Aoteaora,” Sue said.

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