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He inspired the country’s favourite Transylvania statue and taught a generation of theatre lovers to eloquently jump to the left, and step to the right.

Now the creative genius behind The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O’Brien, has been celebrated by Hamilton City Council with a new civic honour – the Hamilton Kirikiriroa Medal. The medal recognises the significant achievement of Hamiltonians who have been highly successful in their chosen field and have raised the profile of the city.

Mayor Paula Southgate said O’Brien’s creative legacy has been embraced by the city who see Richard as a “creative icon”.

“Richard has been hugely inspirational, and continues to be so. He will always be known for The Rocky Horror Show – how could he not? But he has given our city so much more than that,” she said.

“He has an enormous passion for theatre and creativity and has shared that passion very, very generously. He’s been a huge advocate for the arts in Hamilton and he has shone a bright and enduring light on creativity and culture in our city. Richard’s wit, his music and his very character have enriched our city and I feel enormously privileged to be part of honouring him in this way.”

O’Brien was presented with his medal by Mayor Southgate at a ceremony next to the city’s famed Riff Raff statue on Thursday.

Riff Raff is one of the main characters of O’Brien’s celebrated musical and the statue itself has become a must-visit attraction for Rocky Horror devotees.

O’Brien said receiving the Hamilton Kirikiriroa Medal was “a generous gift that is as welcome as a loving kiss”.

He created the concept of The Rocky Horror Show while working as a barber in Hamilton from 1959 to 1964. The barbershop was located in front of the old Embassy Theatre where O’Brien attended many late night picture shows.

O’Brien has continued to have a close relationship with Hamilton’s creative community since his return to live permanently in New Zealand in 2009. He serves as patron of the Hamilton Operatic Society and is a regular visitor to plays and shows.

The Riff Raff statue is presently located in the plaza in front of Waikato Museum while the new Waikato Regional Theatre is being built. It will be returned to its Embassy Park home once the theatre build is completed in 2024.

Past recipients of the Hamilton Kirikiriroa Medal include John Gallagher, the late John and Bunny Mortimer, Dr Beverley Clarkson and Professor Bruce Clarkson, and Dr Peter Sergel.


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