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Te Waka Toi honours veteran filmmaker

12 November 2005

Te Waka Toi honours veteran filmmaker

Veteran filmmaker Don C. Selwyn, ONZM (Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri ) is today being awarded Te Tohutiketike a Te Waka Toi - the award presented annually by Te Waka Toi, the Màori arts board of Creative New Zealand for outstanding contribution to the development of Màori arts.

Te Waka Toi chair Elizabeth Ellis said Selwyn was recognised not only for his direct contribution as an actor, producer and director in stage, television and film, but for his tireless work in training and mentoring young Màori in the industry.

"There are many Màori working in film and television who are there because of Don Selwyn's relentless devotion to ensuring that we had a voice in those industries," she said.

"He felt strongly that not only should Màori be represented in front of the cameras but they should also be influential behind the cameras, in the technical areas, and in the director chairs.

"The work he has done to ensure that happens is every bit as great as the work we all see on the screens."

>From 1984 to 1990, Selwyn ran a film and television training course called He Taonga I Tawhiti (Gifts From Afar) for Maori and Pacific people to give them the technical skills to enable them to tell their own stories. 120 people went through the course over its six-year existence. In 1992, with producer Ruth Kaupua Panapa, Selwyn formed He Taonga Films to create job opportunities for course graduates and to provide outlets for Maori drama writers.

Through He Taonga Films, he has produced and directed Maori language television dramas (Maaui Pootiki, Tohunga) and many Maori dramas in English, including Don't Go Past With Your Nose in the Air, awarded best foreign short film at the New York Festival in 1992. He was executive producer of the 2000 New Zealand Media Peace Award winning feature The Feathers of Peace.

Elizabth Ellis also praised Selwyn's Màori Merchant of Venice film as another major achievement.

"It was the first feature film entirely in te reo Màori and is a perfect tribute to the beautiful translation of Shakespeare's work by Pei Te Hurunui Jones," she said.

Don Selwyn's award will be presented at a ceremony at Te Mahurehure, 73 Premiere Ave, Pt Chevalier, Auckland at 3.00pm on Saturday 12 November.


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