Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie

Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa

1923 - 1997

Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie was born in Arowhenua and was educated at Tarahaoa Native School and Temuka District High School. She attended Christchurch Teachers’ College and became a teacher. She began her university studies at Otago University and completed a B.A. degree in English and Māori at Victoria University in 1976 She married Malcolm Murchie and had ten children. Erihapeti was active in Māori Women’s Welfare League at regional and national levels from 1963. She was elected to the national executive of MWWL in 1972, was a Vice-president from 1976-77 and was national president from She was research director for the League from 1981-85 and was responsible for "Rapuora: Health and Māori Women". From 1988 till 1996 she was a part-time Human Rights Commissioner; in this capacity, she represented the Commission five times at Indigenous Peoples’ Conferences at the United Nations forums in Geneva and once in Norway. She was prominent in promoting health matters and was the first chair of the Health Promotion Forum for four years. Rehu-Murchie was awarded Q.S.O in 1989 and was presented with an honorary LL.D. from Victoria University in 1990. She was on the Marae Subsidies Committee which was established in the early 1970s.

Rehu-Murchie wrote non-fiction articles and waiata, and wrote a review of Mason’s The Healing Arch in the Listener about the mid 1980s. She participated in the Morning Comment broadcast for four years. She was fond of drama and the arts. She produced plays, and had the lead role in three productions of Bruce Mason’s Pohutakawa Tree: in the NZBC radio broadcast of 1960, in the stage productions in Play House in Dunedin in 1963, and in Downstage in 1984. She was a member of many foundations and committees including the Māori Education Foundation and the Māori Tertiary Selection Committee from 1974-1981; the National Council of Women’s executive from 1977-1980; and the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute from 1978-1996. From 1992-1996, she was on the Massey University Council, the Māori Committee of the New Zealand Health Research Council, and the New Zealand College of Nurses, of which she was a patron. From 1984 she was on the Health Advisory Committee on Health Promotion, was a member of the National Commission for the International Year of the Child, and was on the Prison Parole Board. She was a Justice of the Peace and was invited to make speeches all over the country. She was working on a book of biographies of Ngāi Tahu women at the time of her death, and was also investigating cultural training for social workers at Wanganui Polytech. Rehu-Murchie posthumously received New Zealand’s top award, the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for her work promoting Māori health and human rights issues. She has written under Rehu-Murchie and Murchie.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation and correspondence with Malcolm Murchie, 19 July and 2 Aug. 1998.
  • Te Iwi o Aotearoa 12 (1988): 22.
  • Te Iwi o Aotearoa 30 (1990): 24.
  • Rehu-Murchie, Erihapeti. "Erihapeti Murchie." What I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Twenty-Two New Zealanders. Comp. Allan Thomson. Wellington, N.Z.: GP, 1993. 160.


  • Rapuora: Health and Māori Women. Wellington, N.Z.: Māori Women’s Welfare League, 1984.
  • A comprehensive report of research conducted by the Māori Women’s Welfare League concerning Māori perceptions of health. The project had its origins in the annual conference of the National Council of the League in May 1975 and comprised two separate research projects lasting from 1977-81 and 1981-84. Rehu-Murchie describes the four sections of the report: ‘[t]he first section outlines the basis for research, describes the methodology and presents the demographic profile of the New Zealand Māori. The second section deals with the health perceptions of 1177 Māori women and describes some of the health risks these women run through their life-style activities. The third section discusses important points arising from the survey and recommends action for the League, te whanau, te hapu, te iwi Māori as well as some activities for other health care personnel and the authorities. The fourth section, i roto i te reo rangātira, contains information from the survey likely to be of special interest to Māori and other readers of the language.’
  • "The Unresolved Promises of New Zealand." 1840-1990: A Long White Cloud? Ed. Tom Newnham. Auckland, N.Z.: Citizens Association for Racial Equality; Graphic Publications, 1989. 13-18.
  • In this essay of two parts, Rehu-Murchie writes of her childhood years growing up at Arowhenua and discusses the future of New Zealand from 1990 to 2040. Rehu-Murchie asserts that the ‘150 years of apprenticeship in nationhood have been long and frustrating’ for Māori, and future governments must ensure that available resources are shared fairly, unemployment rates reduced, natural resources preserved, and she concludes that ‘partnership must be a key theme for New Zealand over the next 50 years’.
  • "Erihapeti Murchie." What I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Twenty-Two New Zealanders. Compiled by Allan Thomson. Wellington, N.Z.: GP Publications, 1993. 160-166.
  • Rehu-Murchie writes of the different components of her personal belief system which were impacted by her childhood, family, T.W. Ratana and her Māori heritage.
  • Poetry

  • "Two poems." Broadsheet (Night Press) (May 2013): 30-31.
  • Reviews

  • "Books: Ka To He Ra, Ka Ura He Ra." Rev. of The Healing Arch, by Bruce Mason. Listener 19 Dec. 1987: 75-76.


  • McLennan, Patrick. "Treaty of Waitangi basis for nationhood." Otago Daily Times 19 May 1989: 5.
  • "New Commissioner." Te Iwi o Aotearoa 12 (Aug. 1988): 22.
  • "New Years Honours 1990." Te Iwi o Aotearoa 30 (Feb. 1990): 24.
  • New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa. Vol. 1. - 1992. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa, 1992. 209.
  • New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa. 1994 ed. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa, 1994. 478.
  • "From teaching to leadership." Evening Post 10 July 1997.
  • Campion, Richard. "A debt owed to Elizabeth." Dominion 12 July 1997.
  • Jeffries, Pamela. "Dedicated to human rights." Sunday Star-Times 20 August 1997.
  • Mana Magazine Oct. 1997. No further details.
  • "Poroporoaki." Health Promotion Forum Aug. 1997. No further details.
  • "Tragic Sequel To Award." Chronicle 7 July 1997. No further details.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 22.
  • Reviews

  • "Rapuora, Health and Māori Women." Tu Tangata 25 (Aug./Sept. 1985): 8-9.
  • A summary of the major findings of the survey on the health of Māori women and a list of recommendations made and presented to the National Māori Women’s Welfare League Conference in 1985.