Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

March 11, 2011

The Best Funeral Ever. #eqnz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 3:53 pm

I had the privilege today to attend the farewell to Murray Wood, CEO of CTV.

The Aurora Centre at Burnside High School seats 701 people (according to Norm Withers, former deputy mayor, whose steel trap mind retains information of that nature – as does a giant table in his garage. alt.archive/withers should be on his business card.)

It was beyond full. It was beyond overflowing. Kimmy and I sat in the upstairs foyer, in behind Mike Yardley. (I leaned forward at one stage and whispered now it was my chance to stab him in the back – I did refrain – as does he 🙂

There were three such overflow spaces, I think. At one point in the service, celebrant David Rodgers (round of applause that man) mused as to whether there were any souls left in the CBD. I doubt there were any in broadcasting. Your news might be a bit thin tonight.

Murray’s enormous contribution to our community was something that I really hadn’t understood. I didn’t have the full mark of the man. I knew only some of the broadcasting stuff – the rock and roll and country music connections were news to me. (Half a generation in broadcasting makes a big difference). And the penny hadn’t dropped around his service on the board of the Christchurch Music Centre (must check how that building fared) as well as Magnum Mac.

The service was put together impeccably – by Murray’s sister Linda, I understand. From Graham Wardrop’s beautiful guitar at the start to Let it Be at the end, it was an absolute triumph. Photos told Murray’s story without the need for a word to be spoken. The words which were spoken, by his closest friends and his astonishing family, were simple and heartfelt and beautiful.

The piano piece played by his son Bradley was a virtuoso performance. Note that name. Bradley Wood. His music will be in your ears for years to come. So too will the poetry of the brave and beautiful Kimberley. What amazing children. They don’t arrive by accident. They’re carefully crafted by people whose hearts are filled with love, compassion, kindness, music and humour.

There were tears, of course there were, but it felt different to any other funeral. The coming together at the end (and how did all those people get fed and watered?) and the chance to share our own stories and hug and cry and arrange the next funeral time and promise help and support made it feel like a service of hope as much as one of mourning.

And that is exactly what Murray John Wood, 29 July 1954 – 22 February 2011, would have wanted.

I said to someone at the end that when Murray’s face shone from the screen again at the end of the service, I wanted to see the credits. I felt like the words “The End” needed to be there.

But it’s not the end, not for Murray’s family, not for those of us who will support them and rebuild this city. It is simply part of the new normal, the daily farewells, the daily beginnings.

I spent a bit of time with Donna Manning’s chap after the service. That’s how I knew her name had been confirmed. I hadn’t planned on attending her funeral on Monday, but I will now, because I promised him I would. And at some stage next week or perhaps the week after, I will most certainly be attending that of the indomitable Jo Giles, whose name has just been released.

Still standing strong. Still well supported. Still loved. Am going out for a wine tonight, to be with people and laugh and share and forget and remember. And it’s entirely possible I will have a wee blub in a public place. It’s either that or have an enormous bout of laughing. Most likely I will manage both.

And then tomorrow – it being Saturday – I will do the laundry.

Some parts of the new normal are still the old normal. Dammit.



A correction. It was Murray’s wife Nikki (sp?) who coordinated the funeral.

And an addition. Kimmy texted me to let me know that my blog was on the big screen at Civil Defence HQ at the Art Gallery. Murray and his family’s deeds made it to the big screen. And so they should. Indeed, they are a work of art.



  1. Beautiful Post, I am loving your blog and the depth or honesty you are sharing.
    Thank you

    Comment by Wendy Davie — March 11, 2011 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  2. So sorry I could not attend.
    Murray used to lead bands at Hotel Russley in the 80’s & 90’s when I was GM. Lovely words Sue!!

    Comment by Peter Morrison — March 11, 2011 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

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