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John Clarke Dies: Iconic New Zealand/Australia Satirist Was 68

John Clarke as Fred Dagg in 1978

Clarke's family said in a statement on Monday that he died doing one of the things he loved most, hiking in bushland with his family.

Clarke's family said the 68-year-old died on Sunday of natural causes while taking photographs of birds in the Grampians National Park, a three-hour drive from his home in Melbourne, Australia.

Apart from the Clarke and Dawe show, which first appeared on Channel Nine's A Current Affair, he co-wrote, and starred in, The Games, about the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, which aired in 1999 and 2000.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said; 'Sad to hear of the death of John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg. He gave more to others than they gave back to him.

Victoria University of Wellington is saddened at the death of John Clarke.

While his career spanned decades, Clarke was perhaps best known for lampooning Australian politicians and bureaucratic life with long-term collaborator Bryan Dawe in deadpan mock interviews.

Very sorry to hear of the passing of John Clarke.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you John, you never knew me and I'm sure if we ever did have the incredible fortune to meet, you would have berated my unusually tall height before instructing your security detail to pull no punches in my violent removal from your presence.

The West Australian reported in 2010 that "you could sooner get a straight answer out of an Aussie politician than sketch artists John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, the clown princes of political satire".

In recent years he wrote The Ex-PM for the ABC with Sean Micaleff between 2015 and 2017, the ABC's Mental Health Live Broadcast in 2014 and appeared in the documentary Stop Laughing. We packed out the Memorial Theatre and laughed till we cried. He said Clarke was also a careful student of human nature but had the knack of being generous rather than cruel in his critiques. All of us at ABC News and across the ABC are shocked.

The Fred Dagg character was born and promulgated between 1973 and 1977 on radio, stage and screen, becoming a huge hit.

"Hugely influential to me and my mates, he was one of the fathers of NZ's style of comedy".