Revered New Zealand actor Anzac Wallace – star of Utu – died today following a battle with cancer.
Wallace, who was 76, is best remembered for his iconic debut film appearance as Te Wheke in the 1983 Geoff Murphy directed film.
The former trade union official was also a staunch advocate for Maori and was outspoken in his criticism of New Zealand's justice system and on other social issues.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, paid tribute to Wallace's contribution to New Zealand cinema, describing him as "one of the most recognisnable faces in our film history".
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Born in 1943, Wallace's break into the movie industry came in 1982 when Murphy chose him to play the role of Te Wheke in Utu, despite his modest acting experience.
The film shone a light on Maori-European land wars in the 1870s, with Wallace's character leading a bloody rebellion against the British colonisers.
He went on to feature in numerous other films and television shows, including The Quiet Earth (1985), Mauri (1988), Rapa Nui (1994) and Children of the Dog Star (1984).
According to Radio New Zealand, Wallace was sent to prison as a youngster, where he taught himself to read and write.
After his release he worked on the Mangere Bridge construction project where he became involved in one of the country's longest running industrial disputes.
A pay dispute saw 142 employees locked out, with Wallace helping to organise support for the families of striking workers.
More recently Wallace reportedly worked for the Manukau Urban Maori Authority.