Sir Peter Jackson might not have been a New Zealander if not for the courage and tenacity of Kiwi soldiers in World War I.
The Lord of the Rings director said his British grandfather, William John Jackson, developed a respect for the Kiwi character while fighting alongside the Anzacs at Gallipoli.
When Sir Peter's father emigrated to New Zealand years later, his decision was influenced by the stories he had been told about the country's inhabitants.
"My dad always told me that the principal reason he chose New Zealand to emigrate to after World War II was the high regard his father had for the Kiwis he encountered at Gallipoli," Sir Peter told the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
William Jackson, the grandfather Sir Peter never met, won a Distinguished Conduct Medal at Gallipoli, and fought in most major battles of World War I. He died in 1940, aged 51.
Sir Peter remembers his grandmother, who moved to New Zealand to join her sons in 1965, as a kind old lady.
"She died when I was about 10 years old and her five sons have all since died. I have a million questions about my granddad and no-one to talk to."
Records show that in Gallipoli on September 15, when little ground was being made by the Allies, his grandfather led his soldiers forward to capture a Turkish outpost.
This earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal, which Sir Peter keeps in a prized brass tin, stamped with the head of Queen Mary, that was issued to troops at Christmas.
The film-maker's father, William Arthur Jackson, was in the British Army for five years during World World II before moving to New Zealand.
Sir Peter is a member of the WW100 panel, which aims to promote the activities of the centenary of WWI next year. It can be found online at ww100.govt.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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