New Zealand film legend Ian Mune is the latest winner of the Equity Lifetime Achievement, supported by Ryman Healthcare.
Ian was honoured at a celebration night in Auckland with Sam Neill leading the accolades for a man described as New Zealand’s greatest living actor.
Equity President Jennifer Ward-Lealand said Ian was the ultimate triple threat – an acclaimed actor, writer and director – in a career spanning 60 years.
“Ian has made a huge and lasting contribution to our industry with his impressively diverse career and has had a hand in some of our most celebrated, uniquely New Zealand stories. He has an extraordinary presence and a truly unique energy. He raises the bar of any production he is involved with. Ian embodies the professionalism we all aspire to.”
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Ian began his professional acting career as a founding member of Downstage Theatre in Wellington in 1964, spent two years with the Welsh Theatre Company and then became a member of the Mercury Theatre Company, where he also taught and directed.
His longtime collaboration with Roger Donaldson included Sleeping Dogs, regarded as one of the pivotal moments in New Zealand’s cinematic renaissance.
Ian co-wrote Goodbye Pork Pie, and his feature film directorial debut was another homegrown classic, 1985’s Came A Hot Friday. Bringing The End of the Golden Weather to the big screen in 1991 was a major personal and public highlight. Ian stepped in at short notice to direct Once Were Warriors sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? which won nine New Zealand Film Awards.
Sam Neill said ‘Mune’ was a true original who had an unwavering devotion to Aotearoa.
“He has given and given to New Zealand theatre and film for more than 60 years.
“No one I can think of has given more. He has an utterly unique voice as an artist and as an actor. There is no one like him, he has that robust, pugnacious, utterly hilarious Mune way of committing to doing things, of getting it done.
“I think of someone like Mune as a great landscape painter, he shows us who we are, where we are, and it is a really exceptional gift as an actor.
Sam said Ian was a pioneer who encouraged New Zealand actors to use their uniquely New Zealand voice.
‘’Ian was really the first person in my cognizance who was absolutely insistent that we use our own voice as actors.
‘’It is difficult to understand how radical that was at the time. Everyone had to speak like a vicar from Chichester.
‘’Drama was confused with diction. It had to be anything but a New Zealand accent.’’
And he thanked him for everything he had done for his career.
“If Ian and his mate Roger Donaldson had not picked me from obscurity to be the lead in Sleeping Dogs, my life would have been much different… If I was alive at all I would probably be growing vegetables in Gore.’’
Equity President Jennifer Ward-Lealand with acting legend Ian Mune. Ian holds the award presented by Ryman Healthcare's Corporate Affairs Manager David King.
Ian thanked all his fellow actors, and Ryman Healthcare, for the award.
“I am honoured. I know, that’s a boring response, but it is how I feel, and I feel it reflects the fact that I chose early on to make Kiwi movies. I am a person of my time. There was no Drama School, there was no path to a drama career, in fact it was regarded as a goofy idea. There were no Kiwi movies. I’ve spent a good deal of my career insisting that if we are true to ourselves we are more acceptable to the rest of the world, and doing work to please foreigners is just a way of throwing ourselves, our history, our sense of humour, our bi-multi-culturalism out the window.”
Ian continues to mentor and inspire the next generation. He was most recently seen on stage in Auckland Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of The Master Builder in October.
“What I and my contemporaries did in our time, has paved the way for today’s world with Drama Schools, self-generated dramas, young people who grow up thinking it’s fine to have an ambition to be an actor, a filmmaker, a story-teller. What better reward can there be than that?”
Jennifer Ward-Lealand thanked Ryman Healthcare for its support. Ryman has backed the Lifetime Achievement Awards since they were launched. The previous winners are Dame Kate Harcourt, Elizabeth McRae, Ken Blackburn, George Henare and Sam Neill.
‘’We wouldn’t have these wonderful celebrations to celebrate our elders, and to remind our younger actors of what has gone before us, without the support of Ryman,’’ Jennifer said.