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Cyril Murphy 1930-2011

Posted by SC Comments Off on Cyril Murphy 1930-2011

Cyril cuts the ribbon at opening of new courts, 1996

Friends at Piha have recently learned that Cyril Eric Murphy had died peacefully at home in Turangi on 23 May 2011. He was born 19 August 1930 at Hawera so died just short of his 81st birthday.

For 30 years, Cyril was a well known figure at Piha before he moved to Turangi in 1996. He originally arrived at Piha in the 1960s with his elderly parents who ran a coffee bar/kiosk at Barnett Hall. Cyril worked as administration manager at New Zealand Motor Holdings, and then after he retired in 1985, worked in administration for a garage in Glen Eden.

When he went to Turangi, the Piha community sent him off with a big party in Barnett Hall, decorated with masses of green balloons.

Cyril lived in an old bach on the west side of Garden Road with a grand view of the beach. He had a corgi called Basil whom he taught to yodel when the theme music for Coronation Street started on TV. Christmas cards from Cyril were sent “With Love and Affection from Cyril and Basil”. He liked entertaining, and would set the table with silverware and fine china. He was a good cook and everything left over went into his fritters, which had to be treated with caution.

Known affectionately to some of his friends as “Uncle Squirrel”, he was a single man, short in stature, involved in everything at Piha and a good talker. Ross Pownall describes him as a “good small community man” and the “De facto mayor of Piha”.  He was R&R president for a time, secretary for years and kept immaculate records. He was street coordinator for Neighbourhood Watch from its inception. Having played piano for dances in Hawera, he donated the piano that resides in the Barnett Hall. He was particularly involved in the Tennis Club where he was president 1985-1995 and a life member. Tennis admin was more his forte than the court, though he is remembered for an unreturnable slice backhand. On the other hand he had an 8 or 9 handicap in golf.

Cyril (left) with John Mannall and Don Wright, work on new PO

He was also one of the stalwarts who got the Post Office going in the old Telecom building. The photo shows Cyril (left) with John Mannall and Don Wright, hard at work on renovating the building to become Piha’s PO.

Cyril was a dab hand at growing plants from seeds and c0llected seed around Piha. He had a little glasshouse and from there supplied plants for public reserves and private properties all around Piha. One of Cyril’s legacies is the many coastal banksia and Kermadec pohutukawa around Piha, not trees we would plant now, but before the days we knew too much about eco-systems, Cyril was spreading his plants far and wide.

Cyril was a particular friend of Jack Kingston, John McKenzie, Jan O’Connor, Betty Hanson and the Pownalls, but known to everyone at Piha.

Cyril’s death has prompted some reminiscensing on the part of some of the older residents of Piha. Graeme Webber, current president of the R&R penned the following memories of the unique character that was Cyril.

“I have very special memories of Cyril who was Secretary at the time I was (last) President. This was before the efficiencies of email and communication outside meetings was by phone. Karen would dread Cyril phoning me (which was very regularly) as it would be at least a 3 hour discussion running through til 11 or 12pm! There was always some huge drama going on, and Cyril would be manipulating behind the scenes.
Cyril was a very particular person and enunciated his words very well, his mind never seemed to be still, always something to talk about, truly a real Piha character.
I had some  marvellous meals with Cyril, he was certainly a good chef and he was very fond of classical music. He enjoyed the finer things in life - though I used to chuckle to myself when he’d refer to his “candlebra” – “I’ll just light the candlebra” – never really knew if that was his own little joke or he never managed to get the word correct!
I remember him and me working on the entrance to the walkway leading to the bridge to the domain - putting in some posts - (oh no, not more posts!!) - to stop bikes / motor bikes. Cyril had backed his car up to access tools he had in the boot, and he had his radio blaring out the Concert programme - an operatic aria, when a group of young people came by and humourously said to Cyril “Turn that bloody racket off – you call that music?” ! Cyril was not amused, and didn’t let the chance go by without telling them they lacked “education” !
He had a little greenhouse on his property, where he prepared his seedlings and propagated plants, and when we were walking along Garden Rd, I’d say to Karen, “Let’s go and see how Cyril is getting on with his plants” and she would say “no way” and walk on, knowing I’d be another 2 hrs with Cyril.
I was sorry when Cyril moved out of Piha – he knew everything that was going on – he said he was “rated” out of Piha – he’d have a fit at today’s rates !”

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