Rangitiaria Ratema Dennan

Te Arawa

1896 -

Rangitiaria Dennan was born in Ngapuna, the daughter of Tuhipo Tene and Te Mango Ratema, and was taught Māori lore by her mother and grandfather. She began her schooling at Whakarewarewa Māori School in June 1903 and in 1910 continued her studies at Hukarere Māori Girls’ College where she became dux and headprefect in her last year at the school. Rangitiaria married Te Aonui Dennan, son of Maggie Papakura; he died in 1942. She taught at Whakarewarewa Māori School and worked for two years as an assistant at a school in Torere, near Ōpōtiki; in 1916 she became an assistant teacher in Ruatoki. Due to ill health she left teaching and became a probationary nurse at Napier Hospital. Continuing sickness forced her to leave nursing and she returned to Whakarewarewa where she became a full-time guide in 1922 - a position she maintained until 1965 when she retired. After her retirement Rangitiaria wrote her autobiography which was published in 1968. Rangitiaria was a member of the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and had a long association with the Anglican Church. In 1957 she was awarded the M.B.E. for services as a guide and she also received a medallion and citation appointing her a serving sister to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. She writes in her autobiography "I believe I may have been the first woman - at least in modern times - to attend a Government House investiture in bare feet. I went in Māori costume, as I considered I was being honoured on behalf of the Māori people of Whakarewarewa.’

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Tuhipo Kereopa, 2 July 1998, and 2 June 2004.
  • Te Ao Hou 55 (1966): 40-41
  • Guide Rangi of Rotorua. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1968. 128.
  • Written by Rangitiaria Dennan with Ross Annabell.
  • Te Ao Hou 70 (197?): 2.
  • Barnett, Steven and Sullivan, Jim. "Guide Rangi: Interview with Rangitiaria Ratema, Guide Rangi." In Their Own Words: From the Sound Archives of Radio New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z.: Government Print, 1988. 23-31.
  • Guide Rangi of Rotorua. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1968.


  • "Guide Rangi." In Their Own Words: From the Sound Archives of Radio New Zealand. Comp. Steven Barnett and Jim Sullivan. Wellington, N.Z.: GP Books, published in association with Radio New Zealand Sound Archives, 1988. 23-32.
  • In this transcription of a recording made in the 1950s, Guide Rangi speaks of her childhood, education, and introduction into guiding. She also discusses the Māori/Pakeha relationship and speaks of her great love for the Māori arts and language. The recording is held in the Radio New Zealand Sound Archives (D510).


  • "Women’s World." Te Ao Hou 20 (1957): 60.
  • Brief reference to Rangi being invested with the M.B.E. at Government House in Auckland.
  • "Guide Rangi of Rotorua." New Zealand’s Heritage 6.84. Ed. Ray Knox. Wellington, N.Z.: A Paul Hamlyn, 1971. 2353.
  • A biographical account of Rangi’ work as a guide.
  • "Guide Rangi Retires." Te Ao Hou 55 (1966): 40-41.
  • Schuster, Emily and Parekowhai, Cushla. "Guide Rangi Rangitiaria Dennan." The Book of New Zealand Women - Ko Kui Ma Te Kaupapa. Ed. Charlotte Macdonald, Merimeri Penfold and Bridget Williams. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 1991: 543-547.
  • Cushla Parekowhai gives an overall summary of the life of Guide Rangi, one of Whakarewarewa’s famous guides, and Emily Schuster shares numerous anecdotes of her Aunty Rangi.
  • "Honours List 1957." Te Ao Hou 18 (1957): 22.
  • Guide Rangi was one of two Māori who received honours in the 1957 New Year Queen’s honours list. Her response to receiving the M.B.E. is briefly stated in this short article.
  • Rangi and Rotorua: An Illustrated Guide to the Thermal Region. Ed. J. H. Richards. Wellington, N.Z.: Reed, 1952.
  • "Haere Ki o Koutou Tipuna." Te Ao Hou 70 (197?): 2.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie, and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 2, 6.
  • Taylor, C. R. H. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Oxford UP, 1972. 91.
  • Reviews

    Guide Rangi of Rotorua
  • Ruha, P. J. Te Ao Hou 67 (1969): 61-62.