Hollie Smith is set to release a tribute single to Helena McAlpine, aiming to fulfil her great mate's bucket list entry of having a No 1 hit.

Television personality McAlpine died in September, aged 37, after a six-year battle with breast cancer.

Kiwi singer Smith this weekend releases a moving song called Helena, which was co-written with McAlpine's grieving husband Chris Barton.

The track was penned for McAlpine's wedding in December 2014, where Smith performed it live. A recorded version of the song was played at her funeral. Before she died McAlpine told family and friends she wanted to have a hit single as an entry on her bucket list.


Smith said her longtime friend heard the finished version of Helena the day she passed away and was delighted with the results.

"Having a hit record was something Helena wanted to do before she died and it would be really special if I can make that happen now she has gone," Smith told the Weekend Herald.

Smith said she started work on the song after Mr Barton wrote down some thoughts about his wife-to-be.

"Chris handed me a crumpled piece of paper on which he had written a bit of a tribute to Helena when they got engaged," she said. "I thought the words were very moving and I added to them and set them to music.

"I sang the song at their wedding as a surprise and Helena loved it. It was a really special moment."

Smith recorded the song at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studios in Auckland and it features backing vocals by Annie Crummer, Julia Deans, Laughton Kora and Tama Waipara.

Smith is so pleased with the final results she has included it on her new album Water or Gold which will be released on April 1 through Warner Music NZ.

"Helena passed away a few hours after I played her the recorded version and it was great she got to hear it. It is a hopeful song about the power of love."

An image of McAlpine is seen embedded in an oak tree towards the end of the video for Helena and she also appears on the artwork for the single.

"Helena wanted to direct the video herself and we had discussed a few ideas for it but unfortunately it was a bit late to make that wish happen," Smith said.

Former C4 television presenter McAlpine, who has a teenage daughter, Shannon, was a champion for breast cancer awareness.

She fundraised on the frontline and became a poster girl for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

In 2012, the cancer she had been fighting for three years came back and the prognosis was terminal. In November that year, friends surprised her with a party for 1000 people at Vector Arena.

McAlpine had a bucket list she kept ticking off as she fought hard to stay alive for everyone around her.

Her investment banker husband Chris Barton said some of the lyrics for Helena came from a poem his wife wrote for him at home.

"It is a really powerful song and you can really feel the emotion in Hollie's performance," he said. "It is so special to hear the words brought to life on such a beautiful piece of music. It would be great if one of Helena's final wishes of having a hit record came true. She would have loved that."

Helena McAlpine had a No 1 hit record included on her bucket list compiled before she died last year of breast cancer at 37. Photo / Greg Bowker
Helena McAlpine had a No 1 hit record included on her bucket list compiled before she died last year of breast cancer at 37. Photo / Greg Bowker