Maori actor and film-maker Don Selwyn has passed away in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald reported that Selwyn died today in hospital after a long illness.

'Don is known to many New Zealanders as an actor but his role in the Film Industry as both a producer and educator played a major part in bringing the voices of Maori and Pacific Island people to our screens - both in front of and behind the camera,' the New Zealand Film Commission's chief executive Dr Ruth Harley said. 'He will be missed by us all.'

Selwyn had served on the board of the New Zealand Film Commission.

He was a founding member of the New Zealand Maori Theatre Trust and founded He Taonga Films in 1992.

Selwyn directed and produced 2001's The Merchant of Venice, the first Maori language feature film with English subtitles.

He also acted in films including Sleeping Dogs and Peach and made the 1992 award-winning short Don't Go Past With Your Nose In The Air.