In life, Talei Morrison fought to improve the lives of those around her, so of course when planning her tangihanga it was others who were at the forefront of her mind.

The 42-year-old kapa haka performer, mother of three and founder of the Smear Your Mea campaign died on Saturday after a nine-month fierce battle with cervical cancer.

Those gathered wept yesterday as her body was brought on to Te Papaiouru Marae, surrounded by the kapa haka performers she had stood alongside.

Among the performers were Smear Your Mea t-shirts, a reminder of Talei Morrison's legacy. Photo/Stephen Parker
Among the performers were Smear Your Mea t-shirts, a reminder of Talei Morrison's legacy. Photo/Stephen Parker

Among the performers were those wearing Smear Your Mea t-shirts, a reminder of the legacy Talei leaves behind.

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Two months ago she received news from doctors that her cancer had spread and told followers she would "progress forward in a positive manner".

Family spokesman Te Ururoa Flavell said she had then asked for "specific things".

"The family, from her view, had been through hell, so they needed something light-hearted."

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.

Talei Morrison publicised her battle with cervical cancer and encouraged others to be checked. Photo/File
Talei Morrison publicised her battle with cervical cancer and encouraged others to be checked. Photo/File

"Some of the performers from the concert and some kapa haka groups will be performing [at Tamatekapua] in the evenings," Flavell said.

"And, she wanted us to have a good coffee machine, so that will be turning up at some point."

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Flavell said Talei's whānau were devastated.

"Even though she'd been on this journey, her passing still doesn't feel real.

"She was putting up a good battle and to lose her has been devastating for everyone."

Talei Morrison, (centre), performing with Te Mātārae i Ōrehu at Turangawaewae Marae in 2009. Photo/File
Talei Morrison, (centre), performing with Te Mātārae i Ōrehu at Turangawaewae Marae in 2009. Photo/File

Before her diagnosis, Talei described her career as "booming", working as principal adviser achievement at the Ministry of Education.

"Most people would say she was a beautiful Māori woman, proud of who she was, proud of her whānau, proud of her people. And everyone gathered here is proud of what she achieved in such a short life," Flavell said.

"In her short life she commanded a huge respect, as a teacher, kapa haka exponent and more recently in her Smear Your Mea campaign."

Performers from Te Mātārae I Ōrehu lead Talei Morrison's body through Ohinemutu to Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo/Stephen Parker
Performers from Te Mātārae I Ōrehu lead Talei Morrison's body through Ohinemutu to Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo/Stephen Parker

Talei has been an integral part of kapa haka group Te Mātārae I Ōrehu for the past 19 years.

"She leaves a huge legacy," Flavell said.

Talei publicised her cancer journey, encouraging women to have their cervical smear tests done before performing at regional kapa haka events.

"She brought a greater education and understanding for Māori women and their families.

"We are expecting a huge turnout, of colleagues from the Ministry of Education, health professionals associated with her campaign, members of kapa haka and her whānau."

Talei Morrison's body arrives at Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo/Stephen Parker
Talei Morrison's body arrives at Te Papaiouru Marae. Photo/Stephen Parker

On Facebook, Poi360 left a message for Talei "who brought poi360 magic to the shore of Okareka".

"Fly that poi high in the heavens and dazzle the stars," it said.

"May your legacy continue to inspire the world left behind."

Her funeral will be held at Te Papaiouru Marae on Wednesday at 11am.

She is survived by her three children - Hana, Tairoa and Karipa - and her partner, Marcus Grant.