One of New Zealand's most successful but largely forgotten songwriters is battling a rare and potentially terminal kidney disease.

John Hanlon, who had a series of hits in the 70s has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an inherited disorder that causes clusters of cysts to develop in the kidneys. The cysts can grow large and over time lead to kidney failure.

For Hanlon, whose hits include Damn the Dam, Lovely Lady and Higher Trails, the disease is advanced and his life now depends on several hours of dialysis every second day.

"It has brought me to a shuddering standstill," says Hanlon.

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