Iconic Maori singer Bunny Walters, best known for hit 'Brandy', dies after illness

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A well-known Māori singer of the 1970s, Bunny Walters, has reportedly died peacefully at Waikato Hospital this morning after fighting an illness.

He was surrounded by his partner Anne, his children and whānau members, Māori Television has reported.

He was best known for his 70s hits Nearest thing to Heaven, Take the money and run, and Brandy.

Mr Walters was born and raised in the Bay of Plenty town of Katikati.

Bunny Walters.

Bunny Walters.

Source: YouTube/Slydogmania

In 1969, he competed against Tui Fox at Joe Brown's, at the Rotorua Soundshell, during the Search for Stars competition, which was held there.

Fox was singing similar material to Walters. Fox won the final with Mr Walters coming in second.

His first single Just out of Reach was released in 1969.

Three years later he went on to produce what would be one of his most popular songs, Brandy - which featured backing vocals by New Zealand trio The Yandall Sisters.

The song reached number four on the New Zealand pop charts, while Take the Money reached number two. 

Walters' contribution to the New Zealand music scene was significant, and it is said that artists who inspired and influenced him the most in his career were The Drifters and Tom Jones.

Mr Walters was also a talented actor who appeared in the 1978 film Skin Deep, and an episode of Shortland Street.

In 2013, Mr Walters was the profile in episode nine of The Untold Stories of New Zealand Music History.

Funeral arrangements and further details have not yet been released.

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