Original Shortland Street actress and playwright Nancy Brunning dies

Former Shortland Street actress and well-loved playwright Nancy Brunning has died, her family has confirmed.

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She had a two-year stint on Shortland Street as nurse Jaki Manu. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Brunning had been fighting an undisclosed illness this year, including setting up a crowdfunding campaign to help with sourcing "life-prolonging" drugs.

Writing online, family spokesperson Stacey Morrison said "our māmā, our sister, our aunty, our friend, she has followed the call of her tīpuna.

"Nancy's passion was to bring unheard stories to the light - to remind our people that our voices are a powerful tool and aroha is the most important thing of all."

Ms Brunning was best known on New Zealand screens as one of the original cast of Shortland Street - she played Nurse Jaki Manu for two years.

Nancy Brunning as Nurse Jaki Manu in Shortland Street. Source: TVNZ

Following Shortland Street, she became a playwright, and her performance in the 1999 'Once Were Warriors' sequel 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted' earned her a NZ Film Award.

Her performance in the 2009 film 'The Strength of Water' was also widely acclaimed.

"While she was loved by the world," Ms Morrison wrote, "she was loved even more by us.

"She was the person that bound our whānau together."

Ms Brunning will be taken to Raukawa Marae.