A founding member of the Howard Morrison Quartet, Gerry Merito, has died.
Mr Merito, 70, died of a heart attack at the Waihau Hotel in Waikato on Monday. It is believed he had performed there at the weekend.
Mr Merito penned comedy-style hits for the Howard Morrison Quartet during its heyday in the 1960s, including My Old Man's an All Black and Battle of the Waikato. He also had a solo career.
Sir Howard Morrison told Waatea News he is devastated at his friend's death.
"He was gold to me. I'm just absolutely devastated ... he was a great gift to Maoridom and to the world of music."
Sir Howard says he is pleased he had the chance to perform with Mr Merito again in December last year while filming a programme for Maori Television about the group.