Artist, playwright and poet to receive honorary doctorate

5 October 2012

Campbell Smith

Artist, poet and playwright: Campbell Smith honoured for his contribution to the arts in Waikato.

A man who’s played a big part in Hamilton’s art scene for more than 60 years will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato this month.

Campbell Smith, artist, poet and playwright is a life member of the Waikato Society of Arts and a former Art Gallery Director of the Waikato Art Museum.

It was Mr Smith who pushed for the Waikato Museum at the south end of Victoria Street to face the river. It was one of the first major buildings in Hamilton to do so.

A talented man

He is one of New Zealand’s most noted wood engravers and many of his works reflect the river and its bridges. A book called Lines of Light features 110 of his wood engravings and his work is in collections at the Waikato Museum and Te Papa.

His book The Journey written in 1958 but published in 2010 is a nativity story in poetry form set in the Coromandel and is illustrated with his own wood engravings. He has written 24 plays; many of them about New Zealanders who’ve changed the course of history. His awards are numerous, and last year his play Sapper Moore-Jones was performed as part of the Hamilton Boys’ High School centennial celebrations. Moore-Jones was a war artist and art teacher at Hamilton Boys’ High. A book of Mr Smith’s plays will be launched later this year by publisher Steele Roberts.

A huge contributor to the arts

“Mr Smith’s contribution to the arts in Hamilton and the Waikato, as an administrator and a practising creative artist, has been huge, and we’re delighted to acknowledge that by conferring our top honour,” says University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford. “Mr Smith has been referred to as the elder statesman of the arts in Hamilton, and he and his colleagues laid a strong foundation for a thriving arts community we have today.”

Mr Smith will have his honorary doctorate conferred at one of two University of Waikato graduation ceremonies on October 17 at the Claudelands Arena which the university is trialling.