Icon and Storyteller Who Inspired All
Veteran actor and filmmaker Don Selwyn has died aged 71 after a long illness. Selwyn was a founding member of the New Zealand Maori Theatre Trust and He Taonga Films, and was a lifelong advocate for the inclusion of Maori culture in mainstream NZ film and television. Born in Taumaranui, Selwyn was a qualified teacher before he became hooked on acting after attending a Shakespeare rehearsal with a friend as a dare. Selwyn toured NZ with Nola Miller’s Shakespeare company and eventually broadened his acting career to include musicals (Porgy and Bess), television (Marlin Bay, The Governor, Pukemanu) and film (Sleeping Dogs, Came a Hot Friday). He produced and directed Don’t Go Past With Your Nose in the Air, which won Best Foreign Short at the New York Festival in 1992, and in 2001 made the first Maori language feature film with English subtitles – The Merchant of Venice. Around 300 mourners attended Selwyn’s tangi in Taumaranui, including many of his high-profile industry mates. “There are so few of us [Maori actors, writers etc] who didn’t walk through his door, sit at his table,” said actor Waihoroi Shortland, who played Shylock in Merchant of Venice. “He invested his life in others.” Selwyn was presented with an Arts Foundation of NZ Icon Award in hospital last month.
Don Selwyn: died 2007