'Extraordinary' Talei Roimata Morrison laid to rest

Cervical cancer campaigner Talei Roimata Morrison has left behind an inspiring legacy as a kapa haka performer, teacher and mother.  Over 2,000 people attended her funeral held at Te Papaiouru, Ōhinemutu in Rotorua today.

Family spokesperson, former Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says, “Talei Roimata was one of those extraordinary mana Māori wahine.  She was loved by her family and friends, over the last few days many have come to pay their respect she touched so many lives.”

Morrison was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August last year.  She documented her journey in a blog that slowly turned into a campaign urging female kapa haka performers to go and get screened for cervical cancer. Many wāhine benefited from her ‘Smear your Mea’ campaign according to the chairman of the Trust Tiria Waitai, who is also a performer for Te Waka Huia.

Speaking at the funeral Mrs Waitai said, “Talei was an icon when performing with her group Te Mātarae I Ōrehu, however when she fell ill she wasn’t able to perform with them during the regionals this year.  That’s when the concept of ‘Smear your Mea’ was born to encourage our wahine kai-haka to go for a check-up.” 

In the Tāmaki Makaurau region, 42 wāhine kai-haka were tested, two of them found abnormal results and are now seeking treatment. 

Talei Roimata Morrison was born in Napier in 1975 she was brought back to Rotorua were she was raised.  A past student of Queen Victoria School for girls, she also attended teachers college in Auckland. A strong advocate for education, Morrison taught at Rotorua Girls' High School, Hamilton’s Sacred Heart College and Tai Wānanga.

Talei Roimata was looking forward to the birth of her first grandchild who is due in two weeks.  She is survived by her mother, Sandy Morrison, her siblings, her partner Marcus and three children. 

She was buried at Kauae Cemetery, Rotorua.