Equity New Zealand, the union representing professional performers, congratulates Sir Sam Neill on his new title as Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand.
Equity New Zealand President, Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand says the new title recognises Sir Sam's extraordinary lifetime's work and the profession of acting.
"Sam is a fine and generous actor. He is a consummate professional and his stellar career is a beacon for every up-and-coming New Zealand actor' he says.
"He's highly regarded by all of us, and we recognised this in 2019 by bestowing upon him the Equity Lifetime Achievement Award. An award decided on by actors for actors."
Sir Sam was officially made a Knight Companion of the Order for New Zealand for services to acting on June 9th after declining the title in 2009 when the then National government offered to redesignate the Distinguished Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit that he was awarded for the New Years honours in 2006. At the time he said that he felt the title of 'Sir' was "too grand by far".
Sir Sam says that he has had a change of heart and it now accepting the title to increase the value placed on his profession.
He says he is also accepting the title to increase the recognition and worth of professional performers. "I've come to realise this isn't just about me" he says. "It is vital that all the Arts are recognised and honoured. There are precious few acting Knight and Damehoods. This reconition I think is the community, the country says yes, we value actors, and the contribution you make to our land."
Dame Kate Harcourt was the only other actor recognised at this level until the Queen's Birthday honors this year when Dame Carolyn Henwood's service to theatre as well as for youth and the state were recognised.
Sir Sam says its an honour to receive the title.
"So with immense gratitude, i have accepted this great honour on behalf of all actors in Aotearoa" he says.
"Also , I think I’m old enough now . I’ve joined the seniors , for sure ; I checked .
Plus I've have put a few more runs on the board since the original offer.
And I no longer care about my friends giving me stick."
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