Yesterday's 2019 National Smear Your Mea Day marked two years since the Māori women's health movement's founder Talei Morrison was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer.

Whānau, friends, and supporters gathered at Kauae Cemetery yesterday morning, before splitting into a group bike ride around Lake Rotorua to the Village Green, or a hīkoi to the Lakefront via Fairy Springs.

Sandy Morrison, (left) with great grand daughter Hine-ki-te-ao-marama Sotogi, 6 months, who was born just after her grandmother Talei Morrison, (right) died. Photo / File
Sandy Morrison, (left) with great grand daughter Hine-ki-te-ao-marama Sotogi, 6 months, who was born just after her grandmother Talei Morrison, (right) died. Photo / File

Talei Roimata Morrison, a renowned kapa haka performer from Rotorua, died on June 16 last year, at age 42.

In her final nine months of life, Morrison led an Aotearoa-wide cervical screening awareness campaign targeting Māori women.

Smear Your Mea Day 2019 at the Village Green. Photo / Ben Fraser
Smear Your Mea Day 2019 at the Village Green. Photo / Ben Fraser

She had her last smear in 2008, and due to the distressing experience, she did not return to have one again until her diagnosis.

Advertisement

The #SmearYourMea Charitable Trust was established to continue to educate and change the attitude towards smears, working with health providers to promote free and accessible screening.

Smear Your Mea Day 2019 at the Village Green. Photo / Ben Fraser
Smear Your Mea Day 2019 at the Village Green. Photo / Ben Fraser

Morrison's younger brother Eruera Keepa said the feedback over the past two years had been "extraordinary".

"Smear Your Mea has become a source of inspiration for many women who were once whakamā and scared about going through the process."

Final farewell for Talei Morrison at Te Papaiouru Marae, June 2018. Photo / File
Final farewell for Talei Morrison at Te Papaiouru Marae, June 2018. Photo / File

He said the kaupapa was also "a space for males to support women, because at the end of the day it's all about whānau".

Participants dressed in teal and white, used to represent the campaign, and Smear Your Mea merchandise.

Supporters walk in the Smear Your Mea Day hīkoi 2018. Photo / File
Supporters walk in the Smear Your Mea Day hīkoi 2018. Photo / File

Māori health providers were on-site in the Village Green to carry out smear tests, as they were at the first annual event in 2018.

Morrison's mother Sandy said it was a "freezing" day but the event would happen every year "wet or fine".

Smear Your Mea Day launch, 2018. Photo / File
Smear Your Mea Day launch, 2018. Photo / File

"We all miss her [Talei] terribly... but we are all in a vortex of aroha that keeps on gaining momentum," she said.

Advertisement

At 1pm a "Cheers to Smear Your Mea" was held simultaneously across the country.

Others marking the day in Wellington, Auckland, the South Island and even overseas, posted photos promoting Smear Your Mea Day through the morning.

"We are proud and excited to host the central celebration point for this day here in Rotorua," Keepa said in a livestream from the event's Facebook page, to the wider supporters.

The event follows Ride4Talei which took place just before Te Matatini in February.

Smear Your Mea won the Hiwa i te Rangi Community Award at the 2019 Matariki Awards.