“His sudden death was not predicted and has come as a shock to all,” a post on the band’s official Facebook page said.

McArtney started Hello Sailor in 1975 and had a succession of hits with the band before he founded The Pink Flamingos in the Eighties.

“We used to call him Dunkirk Dave,” fellow Sailor bandmate Harry Lyon told the New Zealand Herald after McArtney’s passing.

“He’s that guy you want to see on you right shoulder when you go over the top.

“He’s more than just a bandmate. It’s friendship that holds us together.”

It is understood that McArtney had been suffering from cancer and had recently spent a week in hospital but ha been released and was expected to recover.