But Leinster starlet Jonathan Sexton was in fine form and six penalties sent his side in at the break level at 18 all.
Centre Paddy Wallace then capped a fine performance with a try to give Ireland the lead only for Karl Lowe to score the Maori's third try and clinch the win.
Sexton missed a late penalty to tie things up again but Murphy, who was leading his country for the first time, had no excuses and has called for an improvement as they head to Australia.
"We ourselves a mountain to climb at the start but credit to the boys because we grafted hard," said the full-back.
"There are some positive we can take but there's also a lot to work and overall we are disappointed as we wanted to win.
"I've got to give credit to the Maori - they played well in the second half and deserved to win the game."