Topics: Health, Te Arawa

Smear Your Mea campaign launches national day

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Today is the one year anniversary of Smear Your Mea campaigner Talei Roimata Morrison's cervical cancer diagnosis. The Rotorua woman died in June this year.  Today more than 160 people honoured her memory by participating in a fun ride and walk in Rotorua.

The national Smear Your Mea day is an initiative inspired by Māori cultural performer and educationalist the late Talei Morrison.

Tiria Waitai, chairwoman of the Smear Your Mea campaign, says, “This was one of her dreams, one of her desires was to launch a national Smear Your Mea day so that we can continue raising awareness of the importance of our wahine Māori having their regular smears because it's all about preventing cervical cancer.”

160 people registered to bike 50km's around Lake Rotorua or walk the 6.5 kms from Kauae Cemetery, where Talei is buried, to the Rotorua lakefront.

Eru Keepa, the younger brother of Talei, says, “We are in good spirits as we are very lucky to have support from the community at this sad time." 

In NZ 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and around 50 die from it.

Kiri Kepa is a breast cancer survivor and is riding to support the campaign. She says no matter what illness, don't delay your decision to get checked.

“I held mine off for a year, so yeah, don't hold it off - and make sure you get yourself checked out and do your treatment.” 

The campaign is now looking to target haka groups heading to Te Matatini next year to jump on board and support the initiative.