It was the warmest day in weeks. "Talei shone upon us with a beautiful day," Te Ururoa Flavell said.

The tui in the bright pink blossom trees at Kauae urupā could only just be heard over the bilingual chatter among Talei Morrison's friends, whānau and supporters.

Almost 200 gathered for the Smear You Mea hīkoi, a year since Morrison, the movement's founder, was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

She died 10 months later, in June.

Advertisement

At 10am, after a quick karakia, a group of more than 30 cyclists started their route around Lake Rotorua to the finish point at the Lakefront.

"Those of you who are competitors stay behind me," Flavell joked to others in the bunch.

The majority of the hīkoi took a shorter route by foot, through Fairy Springs and Ohinemutu.

National #SmearYourMea Day hikoi from Talei Morrison’s grave to the Lakefront Village Green is starting ☀️

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 25 August 2018

Morrison's cousin, Rawiri Bhana, said the group just wanted "to be visible".

"We want people to say 'man, what are these people doing? Where are they going? Can we follow them?'"

The aim was to reach the Village Green by 1pm for the "Cheers to Smears", the official launch of the national Smear Your Mea day.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
12 Aug, 2018 1:29pm
3 minutes to read
ROTORUA DAILY POST
3 Jul, 2018 3:00pm
2 minutes to read
ROTORUA DAILY POST
2 Jul, 2018 6:00am
3 minutes to read

Eruera Keepa, Morrison's brother, said it was a "really poignant time to continue the legacy".

He said the whānau had been taking it "day by day" since Talei's death, and yesterday's turnout was "a testament to the belief in being proactive when it comes to cancer".

"As sad as it is for me to say, if there's anything good that can come out of something sad, we hope that happens. We hope this movement saves lives."

National #SmearYourMea Day launch at the Lakefront Village Green

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 25 August 2018

When the cyclists, walkers, and runners arrived at the Lakefront, Talei Morrison's mother Sandy addressed the crowd, with event organisers.

They spoke of their contact with the Ministry of Health, and new data showing 1000 more New Zealand woman had cervical smears between January and June 2018 than during the same timeframe in 2017.

At 1pm the group raised cups of water and grape juice to say cheers, followed by a flurry of hugs and kisses, and for some, a few tears.

Flavell said the day would "hopefully build momentum over the years".

"You've got national cancer day, national everything else day, now we've just launched it and we didn't ask anybody, it's just now called official Smear Your Mea Day," he said with a grin.

Organising team member Tiria Waitai promised her friend Talei she would continue the kaupapa after her death.

"It is really reassuring to see it working," she said.

Sandy Morrison agreed.

"Talei's treatment, she made it very public. In putting that publicity out about her own journey, that inspired many others. Not that I could read what she was writing. I was right there I didn't want to go back and relive it, but it is what it is and it was what it was."

She said the public response was "more than numbers".

"You're getting people who have the least access, let alone the want to access. So when you can target 1000 they're probably women who haven't had their smear for so many years, who have had their own obstacles to access healthcare."

Sandy Morrison said the support for the movement had taken the whānau "up a notch" in their "healing journey" since her daughter's death.

"Today was all we could have hoped for."