Smear Your Mea campaign founder Talei Morrison has died after being diagnosed with cervical cancer last year.

Family spokesman Te Ururoa Flavell confirmed this afternoon that Morrison's body would be in Hamilton tonight, and would return home to Rotorua tomorrow.

He said she would be taken to the Tamatekapua meeting house and would be buried at Kauae Cemetery next week.

Talei Morrison was 'determined to progress forward in a positive manner'. Photo/File
Talei Morrison was 'determined to progress forward in a positive manner'. Photo/File

In an effort to raise awareness of the disease and to stop other wāhine having to go through what she did, Morrison launched the Smear Your Mea campaign at the start of this year.


She encouraged women to have their cervical smear tests done before performing at regional kapa haka events.

The campaign quickly went viral, with credit given to Morrison's status within kapa haka circles.

Two months ago Morrison asked her followers to have the utmost belief and strength in the knowledge she would be doing whatever it took to eradicate cancer from her body.

In a video uploaded to YouTube she said: "On Monday, April 9, I received a phone call from the oncology unit at Waikato Hospital asking me if I could go in the next day".

"Unfortunately my cancer has spread. It is now in the glands of my stomach, between my heart and my back, in my collar bone and around my kidneys. Both my radiation doctor and my chemotherapy doctor agree that there is no more that conventional medicine can do.

"However, my family and I and my close friends are determined to progress forward in a positive manner."

In April, Morrison told the Rotorua Daily Post she started the campaign for two reasons.

"When I was diagnosed there were no resources that connected with me as a Maori woman. And also because I didn't want any woman to be stripped of her right to perform with her kapa because of cancer."

She said she was learning from her cancer journey.

"If your gut tells you you're sick and you are not making progress with your GP, you need to ask questions and be pushy.

"Have conversations with your whanau and friends about each other's health and keep those conversations up.

"Respect your role as a kaihaka [performer]. Respect kapa haka; the art form that creates discipline, teamwork, commitment and that entices passion, energy, and power because you never know when your last stand will be."

Last month, friends started planning a 'To Talei with Love' concert to take place on July 1 to fundraise for the Smear Your Mea campaign.

All 200 tickets have sold out, and nearly $6000 has been raised.