Fitting farewell for a distinguished New Zealander
By Roger Childs
John Murray lived for 88 years and packed in a huge range of experiences and achievements. The pinnacle of his vocation as a Presbyterian minister was becoming Moderator in 1990, however he is better remembered by many for his commitment to good causes. No issue was too big or too small for him, whether it be a nuclear-free world or preserving access to Raumati Beach.
His determination and persistence in fighting for what was right often provoked opposition, and over the years he was a thorn in the side of many organisations from the New Zealand Rugby Union to the Paraparaumu RSA. (The latter didn’t like John’s advocacy for the white peace poppy.)
In the early 1990s he and his wife, Shirley Erena, settled in Raumati, and from that time they were very active Kapiti citizens. (Scroll down to February 19 to see Alan Tristram’s tribute.)
Appropriately John’s funeral was held at the Kapiti Uniting Church in Raumati Beach.
A moving celebration of a great life
As the packed church and nearby hall emptied out, people were saying to each other what a great service! And so it was.
It incorporated five hymns, all penned by hymn writing legend, Shirley Erena Murray. She has a wonderful gift for expressing simple truths and deep human wisdom in beautifully crafted verse.
There were memories from the three sons, which provided fascinating insights into John the family man, complete with embarrassing experiences and hilarious anecdotes.
Legendary theologian, Lloyd Geering, also spoke and outlined John career in the church and his huge achievements, especially in making St Andrews on the Terrace a focal point for interaction between church and city, and a place where no topic was off limits for discussion.
Our editor Alan Tristram, outlined John’s activism in the Kapiti District and notably in winning the battle for providing public access to the beach along Bert’s Way (could become John Murray Way?); getting a Community Board established in the area, and ensuring that the Council built a large, free-standing Library in Paraparaumu. (Alan would have been delighted to be referred to as the mayor by the following speaker!)
Hugh Templeton spoke eloquently of his 70 year + friendship with John from Kings High School and Otago University days through to recent times. His moving eulogy emphasised his huge respect and admiration for the achievements and friendship of the great man.
The service was smoothly piloted by the clergy, Roger Wiig and Ken Irwin, and they clearly enjoyed asking people to join in Aulde lang syne at the end.
It was a delightful finale to a superb funeral service, which did justice and honour to a distinguished Kapiti citizen and a great New Zealander.