Monday, 13 January 2020

Guide Rangi

Rangitiaria Dennan (Ngāti Tarawhai, Ngāti Pikiao, Tuhourangi) was born on July 14, 1897 in Ngapuna, near Rotorua.

She was the fourth child of Mango Ratema and Tuhipo Tene. Sadly none of her older siblings survived infancy.

Rangi was educated at the Whakarewarewa Native School and Hukarere Native Girls' School in Napier, where she was head prefect.

Postcard featuring studio portrait of Guide Rangi holding a carved patu. Photographer unknown.
Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (2010.9.9).

She decided on a teaching career and took a probationary assistant position at Whakarewarewa Native School before taking a teaching position at Torere Native School in the eastern Bay of Plenty in 1914. She later moved to Ruatoki Native School in the Ureweras. Unfortunately she developed a throat condition and returned to Rotorua to recuperate.

Rangi later took a position as a trainee nurse at Napier Hospital, but her health deteriorated and she returned home again.

In December 1921 Guide Susan asked her to assist with a party of tourists - Rangi had found her calling.

Rangi's guiding career would span over 40 years. She would escort many famous people, such as former United States first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth II during her 1953-54 royal tour.

Guide Rangi with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, 1954. Photographer unknown, Rotorua.
Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (CP-1181).

Rangi married William Francis Te Aonui Dennan, son of Maggie Papakura, in 1938. Her husband passed away in 1942.

Rangi was a foundation member of Te Ropu o te Ora Women's Health League, and become a Serving Sister of the Order of St John in 1949, as recognition for her work during the war years as Divisional Superintendent of the St. John Ambulance in Rotorua.

She received an M.B.E in 1957, for her services as a guide, from the Governor General, Sir Willoughby Norrie, who had also been guided around Whakarewarewa by Rangi. In 1965 she retired from guiding. She published her autobiography three years later with Daily Post feature writer Ross Annabell.

Following her retirement she lived quietly in Whakarewarewa until her passing on 13 August 1970. She was buried in the Whakarewarewa cemetery.

Guide Rangi, photograph by Doug Therkleson, circa 1965.
Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (Op-2169).

Recommended Reads:

Guide Rangi of Rotorua
 (Dennan, Rangi & Annabell, Ross, 1968)
920 GUI NZ
Reference copies in Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research Area.
Lending copy in Māori Non-Fiction.

Rangi and Rotorua: an illustrated guide to the thermal region. (Richards, J.H, 1958)
993.423Z RIC
Reference copies in Rotorua Heritage and Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research Area.

Guide Rangi (Boon, Kevin, 1991)
920.72Z DEN | 920 DEN*
Lending copies in Children's Māori Collection* and Māori Non-Fiction
Reference copy in Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research Area.

The hot lakes guides: a short history of guiding in the Rotorua area from pre eruption Te Wairoa to Whakarewarewa until the nineteen eighties (Cresswell, John, 2009).
993.423Z CRE
Lending copies in Māori Non-Fiction
Reference copies in Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research.

This blog post was written by Graeme. Thanks to Rotorua Museum and the Don Stafford Collection.