The capital's most famous citizen - movie mogul Sir Peter Jackson - received the country's highest honour today along with a newly minted badge.
Jackson became an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to New Zealand. It is the first time a film industry player has been bestowed the insignia of the order.
"There's something special about the Order of New Zealand," Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae said.
He made the unusual move of singling out the Lord of the Rings director for praise after this morning's investiture ceremony at Government House.
Only 20 members of the order can hold the badge. It must be returned by the recipient's estate upon their death. Jackson's "additional member" status carries the same weight.
"Obviously, it's something I'm going to have to look after and I'm going to have to make sure my children know where to find it, but I do hope to hold on to it for quite a long time," Jackson said.
"I'm feeling great. This is an incredible honour and it's fantastic to be here with my family.
"I can't quite believe where I am today and it's a tribute to all the people in New Zealand who have worked on our films."
The honour might inspire youngsters dreaming of a career in film-making or the arts.
"I don't really feel that different today than I did a long time ago when I was a kid in Pukerua Bay making movies so ... if I can be some sort of example that's fantastic."
When asked if the award would sit next to one of his Oscars, the three-time Academy Award winner said he had a shelf for such accolades that had "various bits and pieces on it".
He and his team were "right in the thick" of post-production and editing of the second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra recording the score at Wellington's Opera House.
"They're doing an incredible job, I mean absolutely incredible."
Plans for directing Dr Who episodes in New Zealand were on ice Jackson said.
"At the moment we're just a bit consumed in the Hobbit but there's just a bit of a fun thing that one day, if the schedules line up, then I'd definitely be keen on doing one but there certainly isn't anything set in concrete at this stage."
Next year was tied up with a third Hobbit movie and Jackson said he could not "afford to get too excited" about the prospect of any new projects.
* Ordinary membership of the Order iss limited to 20 living persons at any time.
Additional members may be appointed in commemoration of important royal, state or national occasions.
Additional members have the same status as ordinary members, but are not counted within the limit of 20 living persons (they are 'additional to' the Ordinary membership). Source: Honours.govt.nz
ORDER OF NEW ZEALAND
Dame Miriam Dell ONZ DBE JP (women's welfare)
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ DBE AC (opera singer)
Sir Miles Warren ONZ KBE (architect)
The Rt. Hon. Jim Bolger ONZ (former Prime Minister of New Zealand)
Ken Douglas ONZ (trade union leader)
Dr Cliff Whiting ONZ (Maori artist, heritage advocate and teacher)
The Rt. Hon. Mike Moore ONZ (former Prime Minister of New Zealand)
H.E. Cardinal Tom Williams ONZ CStJ (Catholic Archbishop of Wellington)
The Rt. Hon. Jonathan Hunt ONZ (former Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives)
Prof. Sir Lloyd Geering ONZ GNZM CBE (theologian)
The Rt. Hon. Sir Kenneth Keith ONZ KBE QC (Judge of International Court of Justice)
The Rt. Hon. Sir Don McKinnon ONZ GCVO (former Commonwealth Secretary-General)
Sir Murray Halberg ONZ MBE (Olympic runner)
The Rt. Hon. Helen Clark ONZ SSI (former Prime Minister of New Zealand)
Sir Bob Charles ONZ KNZM CBE (golfer)
Emeritus Prof. Albert Wendt ONZ CNZM (writer)
Hon. Michael Duffy ONZ (former Attorney-General of Australia)
Hon. Dame Catherine Tizard ONZ GCMG GCVO DBE QSO DStJ (former Governor-General of New Zealand)
Sir Brian Lochore ONZ OBE (sportsman)
Prof. Christian Karlson Stead ONZ CBE (writer)
The Rt. Hon. Sir Owen Woodhouse ONZ KBE DSC (former President of the Court of Appeal)
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM GBE AC QSO PC (Consort to the Monarch of New Zealand)
Dame Margaret Bazley ONZ DNZM (distinguished New Zealand public servant)
Sir Peter Jackson ONZ KNZM (film director)
Dame Malvina Major ONZ GNZM DBE (opera singer)
Hon. Sir Shridath Ramphal OE GCMG OM AC QC Former Commonwealth Secretary-General
- The Dominion Post