To Kiwis he was a musical legend, but Danielle Cameron remembers her father Ray Columbus vividly as a man who loved playing and being silly with his grandkids.

"Dad was pretty crazy at times. He didn't mind getting dressed up by the grandkids and having make up put on and nail polish put on and prancing him round the neighbourhood. He found that quite amusing."

Columbus, who was most famous for being the first New Zealand entertainer to top the Aussie music charts, lost a long battle with illness about midday today. He was 74.

Kiwi music legend Ray Columbus 1942-2016
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In 1974, Columbus was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He was the first popular musician in the Commonwealth to be appointed to the order.

Several of Columbus' six grandchildren shared his love and talent for music, Cameron said.

Since his death Cameron had received an influx of phone calls and social media messages from people offering their condolences and sharing memories of her dad.

"I just wanted to thank everybody for sharing his life with us and keeping it real, basically... For their beautiful words, memories and thoughts of dad at this time.

"I know that he would be so happy to see us celebrating and re-living his many, many milestones that he walked."

Ray Columbus with his grandchildren Ash (left) and Teina (right) at Christmas - undated picture supplied by family Danielle Cameron <>
Ray Columbus with his grandchildren Ash (left) and Teina (right) at Christmas - undated picture supplied by family Danielle Cameron

Growing up in the public eye was challenging at times, Cameron said, but she and her brother Sean Columbus were "so proud" of their much loved dad's achievements.

"He was a great dad."

She told the Herald of the unique way he called Cameron and her brother Sean Columbus home for dinner when they were playing outside as kids.

"Most other parents would scream your name. My father had a whistle that you could hear from kilometres away. You knew that time was up, you better get home."

Columbus will be keenly mourned in Australia, where both his children, their partners, his grandchildren and great grandchildren live.

"Even though he's been sick for a few years now, it's still never easy."

"I'm glad that he's out of pain. We're all glad for some closure and that he's finally at peace."