New Zealand film-maker, artist and photographer Mike Walker has died in Palmerston North hospital, aged 72.

Mr Walker, who was born in Napier and educated in Nelson and Levin, developed a passion for movies and photography in his early teens.

He started work in 1949 as a cadet graphic artist in the National Publicity Studios of the Tourist and Publicity Department.

In 1951 he joined Bob Morrow, a film animation artist from the British Rank Organisation, in setting up a private film-making company, Morrow Productions.

The firm moved to Levin in 1952 where it remains today. It made animated documentaries and, with the arrival of television, moved into live action as well.

Mr Walker made several films in the mid to late 1980s including Secret Mary, a 20-minute feature made for the Marist Order of the Catholic Church.

He was also involved as a director, co-producer and co-writer in the trilogy of films Kingi's Story, Kingpin and Mark II, which featured local actors and portrayed the lives of Polynesian youth in contemporary New Zealand.

The three films have been considered to be the predecessors of Once Were Warriors and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.

In 1992 Mr Walker left film-making to focus on his passion for photography.

Mr Walker's work earned him international recognition with the commitment of Los Angles company Pohlmann Press to publish a book featuring 68 of his black and white male nude photographs.

Financial constraints mean the project has not been completed, though a prototype of the book has been produced.

Journalist and friend Allison Webber said that as an artist and man Mr Walker was one of the least pretentious people on the planet.