John Barnett ONZM is New Zealand’s leading TV and film producer. He is Chairman of South Pacific Pictures, New Zealand’s largest film and television production company, now owned by Discovery Communications & Liberty Global through UK based All3Media.
He began his career in the film and television industry as an independent producer in 1973. Over the past 4 decades, he has produced television drama, documentaries and feature films, including the internationally acclaimed and Oscar-nominated film Whale Rider.
Prior to that he was active in Artist Management and managed John Clarke, Fred Dagg, during his New Zealand career.
Barnett has produced or executive produced five of the top ten grossing New Zealand films at the New Zealand Box Office.
He has been active in the politics of the business throughout his career and was a founder of New Zealand’s industry magazine, OnFilm. He has also been actively involved in film, television and video distribution and in the development of multiplex cinemas in New Zealand.
John also set up Sundance Channel (NZ) (now the Rialto Channel) – the first Sundance affiliated channel outside the United States.
He joined South Pacific Pictures in 1992 and led the management buyout in 1998.
John has served 2x 4year terms on the Board of the New Zealand Film Commission. He was a member of the NZ Screen Council, a Government initiative to further develop the New Zealand film and television industry.
In November 2002, he was made the SPADA/OnFilm Industry Champion of the Year; and in 2003 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. This honour was awarded for Barnett’s services to the film industry.
In May 2007 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree from Wellington’s Victoria University for his contribution to the establishment of New Zealand’s film and television industry and its growing international reputation. In 2012 the New Zealand Motion Picture Industry Council presented Barnett with the Moodabe Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to the New Zealand Motion Picture Industry.
More recently, John was the 2014 recipient of the Auckland Grammar School’s Augusta Award for outstanding achievement and contribution to the Arts.
Barnett has been active in other areas of media. In 1972 he co-founded New Zealand’s leading weekly business newspaper, National Business Review. He was a director of NBR from 1972-1985.
He is a director of South Pacific Pictures associated companies:
Satellite Media Ltd (Auckland), Kura Productions (Auckland) and SLR Productions Pty Ltd (Sydney)
He is active in public areas and amongst his responsibilities he is a Trustee of Auckland District Health Board A+ Charitable Trust and Te Urungi o Ngati Kuri. He is a supporter/Patron of the Arts, including the Auckland Arts Festival, Auckland Theatre Company and the Auckland Writers Festival.
John is a regular speaker and commentator on industry and media matters and on the elements that make a successful enterprise.
From Shortland Street to Outrageous Fortune, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, to Footrot Flats to Whale Rider, it would be hard to find a New Zealander who hasn’t seen or heard a production which John has initiated or overseen.