One of New Zealand's most beloved actors - and a man perhaps best known for helping highlight 1980s public-service New Zealand in the TV sitcom Gliding On - has died.

Ray Henwood died on Monday morning aged 82, Wellington's Circa Theatre confirmed.

A pillar of Circa since co-founding it in 1976, the Welsh-born actor appeared in many plays, films and television programmes, notably the sitcom Gliding On.

Gliding On screened on TV between 1981 and 1985 - a comedy that "satirised a paper-pushing working life then-familiar to many Kiwis", according to NZ on Screen. It featured four staff members at a government supply office.


Henwood also did one-man performances as the poet Dylan Thomas and the actor Richard Burton - both fellow Welshmen.

Henwood graduated in chemistry at Swansea University before emigrating to New Zealand aged 25 and worked as a teacher and forensic toxicologist while developing a second career as an actor, eventually turning professional in 1970.

"I'd been working in the theatre in Britain, I had done a degree, finished a degree, in chemistry, funnily enough," Henwood explained in a 2012 interview with New Zealand On Screen.

"I was shortlisted for a research post, which I didn't get, and I saw the chance to come out to New Zealand, to teach.

"When I came there was no professional theatre but there was very strong amateur theatre.

"But whether I would have stayed, I'm fairly sure I would have, because I loved it from the beginning. I thought, why would I want to live anywhere else?"

Drawing on his work as a forensic chemist, he campaigned against the use of cannabis and was author of the 1970 book A Turned On World - Drugs in New Zealand.

Ray Henwood is survived by his second wife, the retired judge Carolyn Henwood, and their comedian son Dai Henwood. Ray also had a daughter from a previous marriage and two grown-up grandchildren.


Dai recently took to social media to pay tribute to his dad, posting a photo of the two together from his childhood and writing: "It ain't Fathers Day but I love you Dad. Giving me knowledge and love since '78."