Taylor worthy of accolades

Ian Taylor.
Ian Taylor.
We're not short of high achievers here in the South. We can boast All Blacks, Black Caps and Silver Ferns captains and coaches, prominent politicians, artists, writers and more.

We also boast some world-class business leaders and innovators - though often those are names less common in household conversation. And that is a shame, because achieving against the world, against the odds, while keeping a foot firmly rooted in this sparse and distant piece of the planet, should always be celebrated.

Especially when that success contributes as much to a city as Dunedin's Ian Taylor.

Mr Taylor, a North Island lad who moved south decades ago and never left, was last week named 2019 New Zealand Innovator of the Year. He is the founder of computer graphics company Animation Research Ltd and multimedia production company Taylormade Productions - both central Dunedin stalwarts.

His work includes the production of animated television commercials, children's television shows, advanced 3-D modelling and, perhaps most famously, the innovative graphics for a range of sports. Awards organisers called Mr Taylor ''a game-changer in a dynamic media industry'' and an ''exemplar of innovation in New Zealand''.

He has become an exemplar for Dunedin, too. He was the driving force behind the city's Gigatown win in 2014. His interest didn't wain after the win, working constantly behind the scenes - and without much recognition - to help the rest of the city understand and unleash the potential the technology had to offer. More recently, he put his considerable energy into highlighting the possibilities a revamped Steamer Basin could offer the city.

He cut his teeth singing pop songs and fronting television shows before turning to business 30 years ago. A law graduate, Mr Taylor has made a habit of surrounding himself with some of the best people the global media innovation industry has seen. He's then managed to coax the best out of those people. To do that once or twice might be considered good fortune - to continue doing it over three decades suggests Mr Taylor is a very rare talent.

But there is more to celebrating his achievements than back-slapping a man made good. To hoist Mr Taylor and his achievements up is important as an act of inspiration for those who may be, or may consider striving to be, following in his footsteps.

With a Pakeha father and Maori mother, Mr Taylor is an advertisement for both where New Zealand has come from, and where it's going. He has worked, for many years, to encourage and inspire other Maori to see the potential they have.

He has also refused to bow to what must have been considerable pressure to move his operation to a more convenient location. A shift to the United States or even Auckland must have presented as a glinting possibility at times.

But Mr Taylor has backed Dunedin, its people and their potential. We are the richer for it.

We are quick to hail heroes of New Zealand culture. Sport stars, popular politicians, television personalities and art luminaries all receive lavish praise. We are more reluctant to extol the virtues of our business leaders and innovators. Partly that is because we see those people as already having been rewarded financially. But that is a curmudgeonly reason to withhold praise.

We should celebrate such successes as they act as beacons for the young to follow. As such, perhaps the best way we can honour Mr Taylor and his work is not just to smile at another title being bestowed upon him.

Perhaps it would be more apt to follow his example. Believe in ourselves, encourage our young to believe in themselves, in their potential, and in our place in the world here in the South. Be willing to dream, innovate and, in time, take the baton from a man who has held it so well for so long.

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