Renowned actor, director and writer Nancy Brunning - celebrated for her roles in Shortland Street and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted - has died.

It came after a fundraising campaign to raise $67,000 for a "life prolonging" drug to help the 48-year-old with an undisclosed condition.

In a Facebook post today, Kiwi television and radio host Stacey Morrison wrote: "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.

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"And while she was loved by the world, she was loved even more by us. She was the person that bound our whānau together."

Plans are being made to take Brunning's body to Raukawa Marae near Otaki.

"We wish to express our deep gratitude and mihi to everyone who has supported Nancy and our whānau," Morrison said.

Nancy Brunning in a 1999 photo. Brunning become a household name after starring as a young nurse in Shortland Street. Photo / File
Nancy Brunning in a 1999 photo. Brunning become a household name after starring as a young nurse in Shortland Street. Photo / File

"Thank you to the kind people at Mary Potter Hospice and the hard-working staff at Wellington Hospital. Thank you to all of you who supported her battle in many ways, including the Manaakitia fundraiser."

Brunning became a household name as one of the original Shortland Street cast - the matter-of-fact young Nurse Jaki Manu.

Brunning has had award-winning roles in films like What Becomes of the Broken Hearted and Mahana and appeared in or directed ground-breaking New Zealand theatre.

In 2015, she starred as family matriarch Grandmother Romana in the 2015 film Mahana based on Witi Ihimaera's book, Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies.

Read more:
NZ actress Nancy Brunning on the show she is determined to be well for

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In July, it was reported Brunning was planning to write and direct a play, Wāhine, based on excerpts from Ihimaera's stories, and featuring some of his most powerful wāhine Māori characters.

Brunning had been a major force in kaupapa Māori productions including directing te reo shows for national Māori theatre company Taki Rua and co-founding Hāpai Productions to create work that upholds and celebrates Māori integrity.

She said at the time that Ihimaera's Wāhine lays down a wero (challenge) to other playwrights, storytellers and film-makers to ensure they write more honest and varied roles for women who, in turn, can be role models for the next generation.

Nancy Brunning in a scene from the 1999 New Zealand film What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, sequel to Once Were Warriors. Photo / File
Nancy Brunning in a scene from the 1999 New Zealand film What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, sequel to Once Were Warriors. Photo / File

"I have always loved these kinds of characters, but we often don't see more than a glimpse of them on screen even though they are the ones who have crafted communities, have been the hard workers who have taken care of whānau, looked after the land," she said.

"In the theatre, I've played some amazing women but in film and TV, it seems everything needs to be dumbed down because it's so male orientated. I want to show women with history who aren't one-dimensional but who have character and influence. They are the types of people I am interested in."

But she was battling a condition her family chose not to reveal when they launched a fundraising campaign toward a drug, stating on a Boosted website: "With the marvels of medicine we can show our love for Nan by buying us all more time with her. We can ensure that she finishes some important projects …"