Hana Morrison was a shining light of modest humility, a pillar of strength and a matriarch whose strong legacy will live on.

The Queen's Service Medal recipient died at the age of 86 on Saturday after a battle with dementia and a heart condition.

A woman with relentless strength beneath a quiet demeanour, she was devoted to her family.

Her daughter, Sandy Morrison, was one of eight children who said their mother was the "pou manawa - the pillar in their hearts".

Advertisement

With links to Maniapoto and Te Tau Ihu, Hana was born in Hangatiki in a remote corner of the King Country, growing up on a farm in Otorohanga.

But the bright city lights caught her attention and Rotorua was graced with her purely because it was where the first bus went.

Keeping in line with her gentle nature, she started work at the hospital and soon after was introduced to her husband, the late Laurie Morrison, who was an original Howard Morrison Quartet member.

Hana Morrision (seated) when she received her Queen's Birthday Honour with her great-granddaughter, Hana Morrison (front), Talei Morrison (back) and her daughter Sandy Morrison. Photo / Kevin Taikato
Hana Morrision (seated) when she received her Queen's Birthday Honour with her great-granddaughter, Hana Morrison (front), Talei Morrison (back) and her daughter Sandy Morrison. Photo / Kevin Taikato

It was with adoration Sandy spoke of her mother who was widowed after Laurie tragically died aged 41 in a car crash.

"Like all mums, she led the way. They rest in your heart and she's been in all of our hearts," she said.

She poured her time and energy into her tamariki, ensuring she held onto her genealogical and chosen family ties.

She had a commitment to get behind every successful endeavour that her children individually and collectively wanted to pursue.

Her children include actor Temuera (Tem) and her late daughter Taini who, at the time of her sudden death in 2009, was the leader of the award-winning Te Matarae o Rehu kapa haka group.

Advertisement

She was also the kuia of Talei Morrison, a renowned kapa haka performer and inspirational founder of the Smear Your Mea campaign - a cervical cancer campaign born of her own diagnosis, fight and passing in June last year.

Family was everything to proud Queen's Birthday Honour recipient Hana Morrison.
Family was everything to proud Queen's Birthday Honour recipient Hana Morrison.

Hana's values of being gentle, honorable, showing heart and aroha, and welcoming whoever came into your space were passed on to her children, Sandy said.

Much of her work was part-time, Sandy said, as building her children up was her greatest priority.

"Have a welcoming heart and be generous to people...she taught us to be better human beings."

She had spent time in a "low key " role with the Maori Women's Refuge League and supporting fundraising where she could.

Her compassion did not go unnoticed and she was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 2002 for services to Māoridom, community, and whānau.

Ngāti Whakaue kaumātua Monty Morrison remembered Hana as a woman with māhaki - "humble and yet very clear about what she wants to do and what she wants for her family".

"We looked to Hana as being a matriarch of their family and certainly among the wider Morrison family."

Trevor Maxwell spoke of the woman he saw through her children and said with everything she did, she showed family came first.

Maxwell said her children in kapa haka brought him a lot of joy.

"I can imagine the smiles on her face and in her heart watching them." Maxwell said.

Completing a full circle, Hana passed away in Otorohanga surrounded and embraced by whānau, the same place she was raised as the third of 12 children.

Whānau gathered at Kaputuhi Marae, Hangatiki from Monday and she will be buried today.

"She's left us the example of fortitude and strength so we'll be calling on that as our grounding to move ahead with our lives," Sandy said.

"Carrying the pillar of strength and aroha she had taught all through the life she lived."