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John & Muriel Morrison

Rosemary Tredgold wrote the following paragraphs about the few years when John and Muriel were living in a caravan and cottage on some land at Le Bons Bay on Banks Peninsular.

‘Arsonist! Arsonist!’ The words rang round my ears as I sought to burn a large pile of greenery in a paddock at Le Bons Bay. Muriel’s words followed me round the large bonfire. The fact that the branches, thick and strong, would take many years to breakdown, made no difference to her core belief that all greenery should return to the soil, not as ashes, but as compost to enrich the earth, a view she held well before it became politically correct to do so. She and John had a ‘mulcher’ into which they put all the green waste from their garden in Christchurch, using it as mulch if it could not be dug in immediately. If our memories are right, there was an elderly mangle from John’s family they used to soften some of the garden debris, before putting it on the garden.

Muriel loved her garden, particularly the flowers. John was in charge of the spray- free vegetable garden, providing them with fresh vegetables for most of the year. Dandelion roots were harvested from Muriel’s garden, together with any others she could find, then cleaned, roasted and ground for coffee.

Everything possible was recycled and reused. This came not only from her strong Quaker belief in the Testimony of Simplicity, but from her regard for the Earth.

Muriel (nee Ockenden) taught at Friends School where the man who became her husband was also a teacher, and both were principals of the school. The Peace Testimony was held with great tenacity by the couple, John Morrison having been a conscientious objector in World War 2. Both were very involved in non-violent action, for nuclear disarmament and in opposition to the Springbok tour of 1981, and Rosemary remembers joining them behind the Quaker Peace banner on Saturday marches against the tour. They also led workshops on communication and personal growth and worked with children over many years, their home perpetually open to anyone needing friendship and care. John expressed his desire to love every person even those with few loveable features. (See the chapter in You Are my Darling Zita by Glenn Busch, published by Godwit Press 1991.)

Rosemary, who met the Morrisons on her arrival in New Zealand in 1970, owes her knowledge of Quakers to them, and misses their companionship, warmth and stimulation greatly - even though she continues to burn macrocarpa branches in another paddock!

Neil Mountier wrote about Muriel Morrison in her capacity as Yearly Meeting Clerk.

"I attended my first Yearly Meeting in Dunedin in the mid-1970s, which was the first of Muriel’s three as YM Clerk. Muriel had arranged small home- groups for all participants. These met for 15 or 20 minutes before breakfast, and were a place where each person could speak about their experience, of what they enjoyed and what they had difficulties with. Fortunately, I was an early riser in those days, but I know that some Friends found the early start a problem. As a new Friend, I found this very rewarding as I got to know some other Friends from other Meetings. She arranged such groups at all the YMs she was responsible for. Muriel always saw the personal relationships among Friends as being just as important as the business to be done."

(late members of Christchurch Meeting)