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 Michael Hurst's Acceptance Speech
Upon Receiving His Laureate Award
from the
Arts Foundation of New Zealand
30 October 2003



Kia ora. Greetings

I am absolutely delighted to receive this honour. I would like to thank the Arts Foundation of New Zealand for having the vision to recognize artists in mid-career, and their contribution to the rich cultural life of Aotearoa--New Zealand.

I have a great deal of job satisfaction. My default setting is 'story teller', and I practice this vocation in a number of ways, chief of which is in Theatre--acting, directing, and teaching. I have always done this, I've never done anything else. I've never been a waiter.

I have had extraordinarily good fortune, but I have also never taken any of it for granted. I have always known that the integrity of the work--its higher purpose, if you like--is crucial to affecting change in people. And that, I believe, is the prime directive of all art.

To receive this honour tonight is extremely gratifying. It came unlooked-for and from somewhere other than the theatre community in which I thrive.

It is this recognition and its attendant sense of respect that is important here.

The cultural and artistic life of our people is a health issue. Recognizing our artists is to promote this idea.

No art, no culture--no spiritual existence.

I am proud to be counted among my fellow laureates as a contributor to the spiritual life of the country.

And I am humbled in the face of respect.

I walk a path which is right for me--that it involves hard work, passion, and a sense of social responsibility is no small thing.

So, here in my mid-career, my mid-life, I have this marvelous energizing spur to keep walking this passionate path, with an eye to the higher purpose.

Thank you. I am thrilled. I am honoured. I am an Arts Laureate!

Michael Hurst


A Description of the Laureate Award
(from the
Arts Foundation Website)


The Laureate Award is one of New Zealand's largest cash awards, and the only private award to cover a range of art forms. It is a career award, not tagged to any particular project. Its recipients fill out no forms, read no fine print and make no special applications. Their selection is a surprise--to them, and to the rest of New Zealand. A panel of distinguished peers and arts experts--independent from the Trustees and management of the Arts Foundation--makes the selection.

The recipients are prime movers in New Zealand culture, flag-bearers for their respective careers, and rising to prominence internationally. Their work is rich, but their richest work still lies ahead. The Laureate Award assists them to achieve their full potential, and ensures that their talents are celebrated both at home and on the world stage."

New Zealand Herald article: "'The concept of a laureate means being active, doing something,' said Aucklander Michael Hurst, who has a long history of theatre production and achieved international fame for his work on the TV series Hercules. Hurst said the money came with no strings attached, but 'I'd say most of us have already got the strings attached.'"

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