John Murray (1)

Church people who admired him for his progressive stance over the Springbok tour, gay rights, end of life choices etc…  and one lady who was very grateful he did the funeral for her husband. —Alida Van Der Velde on people who were present 

Many will pass this way

By Roger Childs

Last Saturday afternoon, more than 50 people met at a Beach Access track in Raumati Beach to pay tribute to a distinguished man. The occasion was the opening of the Very Reverend John Murray Way which leads people from Groves Road onto the sandy shore.

When John sadly passed away early in 2017, the Kapiti Community, the nation and the world lost a solid citizen and a distinguished cleric who worked hard throughout his life for the betterment of his fellow human beings. He was a man of conviction, commitment and compassion. In his last 25 years, ably supported by his wife Shirley, he made a huge contribution to life on the Kapiti Coast. 

A huge impact and a rich legacy

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 for local causes included –

  • winning the battle to get Bert’s Way established opposite Menin Road in Raumati Beach 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 will be pleased that the bill is working its way, albeit slowly, through the legislative process.

The culmination of two years endeavour

John Murray Way opening (2)Getting approval to establish a lasting tribute to someone on the Kapiti Coast is not for the faint-hearted. Approval has to be given by the local Community Board, the District Council and local iwi. However, led by the indefatigable Alida Van Der Velde who headed a committee of five, they worked their way through the labyrinthine bureaucracy with Salima Padamsey’s  guidance, to achieve their goal — a permanent memorial to John Murray.

In the warm winter sun about 50 people, including family members, friends, church people and supporters of many groups John was associated with, listened to short speeches from ten people. 

They emphasised his commitment to many causes, his action in supporting his beliefs and his fearlessness in the face of opposition from groups like the Rugby Union and the local RSA. One speaker mentioned his response to a woman who asked him how he could reconcile his religious beliefs with assisted dying – John replied: My God doesn’t want people to suffer.

Very Reverend John Murray Way can be accessed by turning right at the end of Raumati Road and then taking the second turning to the left into Kohutuhutu Road. This leads to the Groves Road Beach Access.