Sing this life well-lived for others,
strong to stand, to lead and teach,
ministries of care and kindness,
talents of the mind and speech;
praise his life’s creative spirit,
visions of a better way,
thanks and blessings on this day.
Words from a hymn which was sung at John’s funeral. Written by Shirley Erena Murray.
A tribute to a great human being
By Roger Childs
Alida Van Der Velde has battled for more than two years to get approval for a lasting tribute in the Kapiti District to the great John Murray. Assisted by Salima Padamsey, and a loyal group of supporters, the climax came at the 14 May Paraparaumu- Raumati Community Board meeting.
John will be remembered in a beach access walkway in Raumati Beach which runs from the corner of Kohutuhutu Road and Groves Road.
Although he and his wife Shirley lived in Raumati, the Very Reverend John Murray was known throughout the Kapiti District, the nation and the world.
John sadly passed away early in 2017, and the country lost a solid citizen and a distinguished cleric, who worked hard throughout his life for the betterment of his fellow human beings.
John and Shirley Murray retired to Raumati in 1993 and in the next 24 years they made a huge contribution to life on the Kapiti Coast.
Committed to helping people and advancing the community
The expression He left the world a better place can sometimes slip off the tongue too easily, however in John’s case the ways he did that, were many.
His tireless commitment to many local causes included —
- winning the battle to get Bert’s Way established opposite Menin Road to provide public access to the beach
- getting a Community Board established in the area where he and Shirley lived
- ensuring that the Council built a large, free-standing Library in Paraparaumu.
He was also involved in setting up many organisations on the Coast, such as
- Amnesty International
- The University of the Third Age
- The Kapiti International Friendship Group to raise awareness of the national migrant groups
- The local branch of the Right to Die with Dignity.
He leaves a rich legacy.
Not always appreciated
His determination and persistence in fighting for what he felt was right sometimes 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.
Many did not approve, for example, of his advocacy of the white peace poppy, his opposition to the 1981 Springbok tour, and his support for the right to die with dignity movement.
A life of action and achievement
This is a man who after a distinguished record in the Presbyterian Church — he was Moderator in 1990 — had a major impact on the Kapiti Coast during his last 25 years of “retirement”.
He was a man of peace, compassion and action who spoke, wrote and protested for the causes he believed in. No issue was too big or too small for him, whether it be a nuclear-free world or preserving access from Rosetta Road to Raumati Beach.
It is fitting that the Kapiti Coast will now remember him in a lasting tribute in Raumati where he spent the latter part of his life.