Issue date: 
Monday, 18 November 2019

Muri ahiahi takoto ki tō moenga                       With the fall of the eventide you lay down to rest

Maringi taharua he wai kei aku kamo               Tears streaming down our face

Tangi kau ana ki a koe e te kahurangi               Such is the lament for you dearest

He maunga aroha mōu mai i ō Iwi kiriata nei   A mountain of love comes forth from your film                                                                             community

Moe mai rā , Haere atu rā                                      Peaceful Journey friend


The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and the New Zealand screen industry are saddened by the passing of actor, director and writer Nancy Brunning (Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāi Tūhoe) on Saturday 16 November 2019, after a long battle with cancer.

She leaves behind a lasting legacy of Māori stories and characters, on stage, and on screen and will be deeply missed by New Zealand’s film and theatre communities.

Best known as Nurse Jaki Manu on Shortland Street, joining the cast for the show’s first episode, straight out of drama school, Nancy was an actor, director, producer, dramaturg, administrator and a representative of Kaupapa Whakaari.

Nancy’s filmography includes roles in Once Were Warriors sequel, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (1991), Mahana (2016), The Strength of Water (2009), Crooked Earth (2001), When Love Comes (1998) and Turangawaewae/A Place to Stand (2003). In 2008 she directed short film, Journey to Īhipa, a World War Two drama about a Māori family protecting its hertiage.

Influential and highly respected in the Māori theatre community,  Nancy directed productions in te reo for Taki Rua theatre, and was a co-founder of Hāpai Productions.

Her theatre credits include roles in Hone Kouka's Nga Tangata Toa, Apirana Taylor's Whaea Kairau: Mother Hundred Eater, the NZ International Festival of the Arts hit Blue Smoke and Kouka's Waiora: Te Ūkaipō – The Homeland, which toured both domestically and internationally.

Most recently, she wrote and directed Witi’s Wāhine, a play about writer Witi Ihimaera.  The day after her death she was awarded the Bruce Mason Award, New Zealand’s most prestigious playwrighting award.

Nancy has been taken to Raukawa Marae in Ōtaki where her tangi will be held at 11:30am on Wednesday 20 November.

Image: Temuera Morrison, August Keefe, Nancy Brunning and Lee Tamahori at the 2016 Berlinale preimiere of Mahana


Last updated: 
Monday, 18 November 2019