Colin was born in Whanganui. He spent his childhood in the shadows of the Parapara Hills, and alongside the Whanganui River. Colin specialised in art at Palmerston North Teachers College from 1968-1969 under the tuition of Frank Davis and Ray Thorburn. He has worked as an art teacher, primary teacher and university professor.
During his earlier years Colin’s paintings conveyed social and political messages—appropriate in times when issues such as Māori land claims were surfacing and New Zealand became more involved in the Vietnam War. His more recent work explores biculturalism, relationships with our land, and social commentary. Colin destroyed almost all of his early works—only one of these survives, in the collection of the Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui. His first major exhibition was in 1970 in the Sarjeant Gallery, and his work at that time was also represented in the Benson and Hedges Contemporary Art Award.