Turirangi Te Kani

Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whānau a Apanui

1915 - 1990

Turirangi Te Kani was born in Maraenui on the East Coast, son of Koraurau Te Kani and Tangiwai Delamere. He served in the C Company of the 28th Māori Battalion and was a prisoner of war for four years. After his return from the war, Te Kani established a dairy farm in Matapihi and married Hinerau Huia Ngatai. Te Kani, Bill Ohia and other Māori farmers established the Rangataua Young Farmers’ Club. In later years he turned his dairy farm into a kiwi fruit and avocado orchard and was a key figure in building orchards at Ngaitukairangi, Rangiwaea Island, Ongare and Tahawai. Te Kani was a well-known historian and tribal authority in the area and was a member of the Tauranga Historical Society for many years. He presided over the Society for a period of time and was vice president from He chaired the Tauranga Māori Executive and was one of the founding members of the Waitangi Tribunal. He was a member of the Waikato Maniapoto District Māori Council, was appointed to the Māori Land Advisory Board, and was on the Māori Affairs Board for 15 years. Te Kani wrote non-fiction articles for the Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society, and composed patere, tauparapara, waiata and a paddling chant for the local Ngaiterangi waka Te Awanui which was built in the 1980s. He was a keen rugby player and played for the Old Boys’ Club and Matapihi Club. In 1970 he was awarded the MBE and in the mid-1980s was invited to attend the opening of the Te Māori Exhibition in the United States. Te Kani was a passionate advocate for honouring the Treaty of Waitangi and was involved in Te Heke o Te Rangihouhiri in 1987. He was a member of the Tauranga Moana District Māori Council and assisted in the fund raising for Hungahungatoroa marae, Matapihi footbridge, and the Tauranga Moana Community Centre. He was a kaumatua of Whareroa Marae, Hungahungatoroa Marae, Waikari Marae and of his marae at Whitianga, and was a Justice of the Peace.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation and correspondence with Mere and Leonard Lambert: 29 and 30 July 1998, and 15 October 2004.
  • "Turirangi, He Totara Haemata: Turirangi Te Kani M.B.E. J.P. 1915-1990." Unpublished paper.


  • Turirangi, He Totara Haemata: Turirangi Te Kani M.B.E. J.P. 1915-1990.
  • A detailed biographical account of Te Kani with anecdotal accounts by family members.
  • Traditional

  • "Ngaru Nui." Unpublished patere.
  • An unpublished patere which was written in support of the Te Roroa Claim.


  • "The Occupation of the Tauranga District by the Ngaiterangi." Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 16 (1963): 3-8.
  • Te Kani provides a detailed account of the Ngaiterangi occupation of the Tauranga district, noting the role of Ngaiterangi chief Tamapahore and his grandson Te Rangihouhiri-A-Kahukino in exacting utu for the killing of Tamapahore’s brother and nephew by Waitaha chief Hikapa. Their utu was performed through acts of subterfuge which saw Ngaiterangi gradually assuming dominance in the district.
  • "Marae, Hapu and Meeting-Houses of Tauranga District." Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 21 (1964): 21-22. Rpt. in Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 59 (Aug. 1977): 38-39.
  • Te Kani gives a brief tribal history of the Tauranga area noting that its early Māori inhabitants came on the Takitimu and Mataatua canoes and are now composed of two tribal groups - Ngāti-Ranginui and Ngai-te-Rangi. Te Kani lists the marae, hapu and meeting houses of the Ngaiterani tribe and of the Ngāti Ranginui Tribes.
  • "Address on Māori History of Tauranga - 14th to 18th Centuries." In ‘Reports on Society Meetings - April to August 1970.’ Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 40 (Aug 1970): 13-22.
  • A very detailed study and analysis by Te Kani with some additions by the Editor, J. P. Porter, of the Tauranga Historical Society Journal, of the origins, history and whakapapa of the Ngāti Ranginui and the Ngai Te Rangi tribes and a critique on the findings of other historians. Additional notes by the Editor are included on pages 22-24.
  • "Te Aroha - The Pursuit of Love." Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 43 (Aug. 1971): 42.
  • This story, told by Te Kani to Tauranga Historical Society members visiting the Eastern harbour pa, describes the quest of Kahureremoa, a noted food gatherer from the Thames district, to meet Takakopere, who was famed for his handsome appearance. The two eventually meet and marry and their union links Te Arawa and Tainui.
  • "The Māori View of the Wars of the Sixties." Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 44 (Jan 1972): 12-15.
  • A discussion of the events leading up to the battles at Gate Pa (April 1864) and Te Ranga (June 1864), and an overview of the long-term consequences of the land confiscations on Māori-Pakeha relations. This is the text of an address given by Te Kani at St George’s Memorial Church Hall which replaced a field trip to the historical sites planned for 20 November 1971 and cancelled due to bad weather.
  • ‘Submissions on Tauranga "Raupatu".’ Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 62 (Dec. 1978): 2-3.
  • Reports on the injustice of the raupatu confiscations and gives a historical background to the events in 1864.
  • "Kōrero Tupua (Fable of Mauao)." W. Ohia and T. Te Kani for the Tauranga Moana District Māori Council. Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 67 (Dec. 1982): 9-12.
  • Ohia and Te Kani write of various legends surrounding places in the Tauranga Moana District, discuss the visit of the Tainui canoe and the Arawa to the area, and write of Te Hekenga Nui [the Great Migration], the Takitimu tradition, the planting of the Mauri on the summit of Mauao, the Mataatua canoe and the Ngai Te Rangi. This was prepared for the Tauranga Centennial Book "1882-1982" but was not included due to space limitations.
  • Te Tangata Rongonui: Turirangi Te Kani. [Matapihi, N.Z.: Matapihi School, 1990].
  • A collection of short tributes written by Matapihi School pupils in memory of Turirangi Te Kani.
  • "Turi Te Kani - A Leader Lost." Bay of Plenty Times 7 June 1990. No further details.
  • Taylor, C. H. R. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon; Oxford UP, 1972. 87,112.