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

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.

Bunny Walters.
Bunny Walters. Source: YouTube/Slydogmania

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

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.



Six car crash on motorway causes headaches for Auckland commuters

A six-car smash is causing headaches for commuters on a busy Auckland motorway this morning.

Emergency services were called to the crash on the South-Western Motorway after 8am.

Fire Service told 1 NEWS six cars had collided, blocking the left lane northbound after Portage Road.

Two people have suffered moderate injuries.

NZTA are advising motorists to avoid the area.

Crash blocking left lane of South-Western Motorway northbound after Portage Road.
Crash blocking left lane of South-Western Motorway northbound after Portage Road. Source: NZTA

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'Whenever I had a bad joke I thought, oh that's Taika' – Moana star Jemaine Clement jokes about Taika Waititi's script writing

Several Kiwi stars stepped on to the red carpet tonight at Auckland's Sylvia Park for the New Zealand premiere of Moana. 

Flight of The Conchords star Jemaine Clement, who voices Tamatoa, "a giant very angry crab" in Moana said it was the "easiest job".

"Working in animation's the first job I want as a little kid," said Clement, hoping the film is inspiring and funny.

He also poked fun at co-writer of the movie, Taika Waititi, jokingly claiming he changed all of Waititi's jokes for his character.

At the NZ premiere of Moana, Sione's Wedding star Oscar Kightley was stoked to appear in the film with 'the two most famous Samoans'. Source: 1 NEWS

Sione's Wedding star, Oscar Kightley, who voices a fishermen in the Disney animation said he was stoked to star alongside Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, even though he hasn't met him.

Other prominent Kiwis to feature in the Disney film include Rachel House and Temuera Morrison.

The movie, in which Hollywood and Polynesian culture come together, has taken the box office by storm. Source: 1 NEWS

The film will hit New Zealand theatres on Boxing Day.

Clement jokingly claims he rewrote his fellow Kiwi's jokes for his character the giant crab Tamatoa in Moana. Source: 1 NEWS