National | Movies

'Utu' lead actor Anzac Wallace passes away

Anzac Wallace (Ngāpuhi) starred as guerrilla leader Te Wheke, in the classic Māori Western, Utu.

He attracted worldwide attention despite never having acted before and went on to star in many other New Zealand films alongside well-known director duo Merata Mita and Geoff Murphy.

The former trade union delegate went on to star in homegrown movies such as The Silent One (1984), Mauri (1988) and pioneering Māori TV series E Tipu E Rea.

Former CEO of Manukau Urban Māori Authority Willie Jackson told Te Ao Māori News, “In his later years he took on the role a mentor for an organisation he helped set up in its initial stages, the Manukau Urban Authority, but had to overcome a long-held grudge.”

Wallace found himself taking centre stage again as part of a crowd of 700 listening to a criminal justice summit when he could no longer contain himself.  He raised a number of issues, highlighting, for instance, that Māori made up 50 percent of the prison population.

He spent 14 years in one of New Zealand’s toughest prisons and became determined to do something about incarceration.

Wallace passed away this morning aged 76 after a long battle with cancer.

He will lie at Nga Whare Waatea Marae in Mangere.