Selwyn Muru – Aotearoa / New Zealand
Painter, sculptor, orator, author, television director and broadcasting pioneer.
Selwyn Muru is a senior Māori artist whose work has helped set precedents for generations of younger Māori artists exploring themes of cultural expression through the visual and performing arts, radio and television. His painting was included in some of the earliest exhibitions of contemporary Maori art alongside other important 20th century Māori artists such as Ralph Hotere, Arnold Wilson, Cliff Whiting, and Fred Graham. He has represented New Zealand in touring exhibitions, including the first Johannesburg Art Biennale in 1995 and his work is represented in major art collections in New Zealand including Te Papa – The National Museum of New Zealand, and the Auckland Art Gallery.
He has written and directed programs for Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand, and his plays in both Māori and English, including The Gospel According to Tane and Get the Hell Home Boy, are some of the earliest plays written and produced for stage by a Māori author. He has translated poems by his friend and fellow tribesman Hone Tuwhare into Māori; featured alongside a young Kiri Te Kanawa and Barry Crump in Rudall Haywards 1964 feature film Runaway; advised Jane Campion during the making of the Oscar winning film The Piano; and collaborated with film maker Don Selwyn on numerous occasions, including appearing in his 2002 Māori language feature film version of the Merchant of Venice – Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weneti.
As an educationalist he taught art in secondary schools, was a Senior Lecturer in the Māori department and established Te Toi Hou, the Maori art department,at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.
As a Māori orator and repository of tribal knowledge, he has been in demand as a public speaker and advocate for Māori issues on countless tribal, national and international occasions, including being a kaumatua (leader) for his own iwi Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Nhāti Rēhia, and Whakatōhea, honorary kaumatua for the Auckland Art Gallery, speech writer for the Queen, and an orator for the previous Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand.
Image – Selwyn Muru (1990). Te Tupuna o te Whenua. [Lithograph].
Te Waka Huia. TVNZ. (1913). Selwyn Muru – Part 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15718usdP8U
Te Waka Huia. TVNZ. (1913). Selwyn Muru – Part 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qiXuWRAolQ