Rangitahi Hanigan


Waikato Taniwha rau, He piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha!

Rangitahi Hanigan, 1948 - 2009, hailed from Ngāti Wairere and Ngāti Haua of the Waikato Region.

Rangi was one of 13 children from a large farming family who were very adept at maintaining and continuing Māori traditional planting and cultivation methods. Rangi was also ringawera  of the Kingitanga and celebrated Ratana as her belief/religion. This notable wahine attended marae hui frequently and, from a young age, was focused on marae/village and community within her Iwi.  Her whānau has many whāngai and adhered to tikanga Māori constantly in their everyday lives. 

Rangitahi Hanigan. Image supplied by author.
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Rangi shared, with those close to her, memories of eating from little plates during the Koroneihana in the 1950's and the regular varieties of Māori kai, such as watercress, piro, kānga and tuna. These she continued to have an indulgence for!

This special woman was also a very proficient tennis and netball player, as well as being a competitive swimmer.

Harakeke was something very dear to Rangi and she made a habit of planting and nurturing this beautiful plant. Although she didn't particularly enjoy the weaving process she acknowledged the importance in the preservation of this taonga, and did enjoy making harakeke kono.

In the 1950's, Rangi moved to Te Waipounamu and undertook seasonal employment. One of the jobs being picking hops in Riwaka, Motueka.

It was during this time that Mrs Hanigan met her beloved Mr Mike Hanigan. Mike and Rangi eventually became publicans having relocated to the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The two of them later returned to Motueka to become the proprietors of the Swan Hotel, which is also when their son Dan was introduced into the whānau.

Although Rangi had many obligations at the time, she undertook seasonal mahi in fruit, hops and the Talley's workforce in Motueka and Tasman wide.  Whilst doing all of this she additionally became an advocate for better pay, early unions and was a key figure in the support and mentoring of young mothers.

In the early 1970's Rangi became involved with Homebuilders, which was at the time the predecessor to C.Y.P.S. and now Oranga Tamariki.  She also became involved with various other social services within the region, including Te Kohanga Reo movement.

In the 1970's -1980's Rangi met other movers and shakers within Te Ao Māori and helped to establish Maiawhitia, which was a Private training establishment.

Alongside Nui Fransen, Rora, Della Nathan and Cathy she became recognised as wahine toa.  She also assisted with the introduction of flax weaving and preservation within the region.

Many Training Opportunities , or what were then known as TOPS, courses were held through Maiawhitia. All of these wahine (Nui, Rora, Della, Cathy and Rangi) recognised a need for the survival, use and implementation of Te Reo Māori. Hence Rangi continued her mātauranga as a kaiāwhina of Te Reo Māori alongside Whaea Della Nathan and furthered this higher learning at Waikato Polytechnic (now Wintec). Through this learning pathway and Te Ataarangi, she established a foundation as a Kaiako of Te Reo Māori.

Rangitahi Hanigan (2006) receiving her Degree . Image supplied by author.
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These two training facilities gave Rangi the grounding and qualifications to establish'Te Tuarā me te Tinana'- Te Reo Māori courses which were delivered through Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

In 2006 Rangi received her Bachelors qualification at Tūrangawaewae Marae, Ngaruawahia and, in 2009, she received her whakapakari tohu, which is a recognised award given to people who display dedication and commitment to Te Kōhanga Reo.  This was also featured in the Nelson Mail at the time.1 By this time, Whaea Rangitahi Hanigan was a well known driving force, educator and champion for Te Reo Māori both nationally and locally.

Sadly, Rangi died on 30 July 2009.

 "Whaia e koe ki te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei."

"Seek the treasure you value most dearly; if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.  (Pursue excellence - should you stumble let it be to a lofty mountain.)

 No reira e te Whaea moe mai ra I te taha o ou Tipuna


Updated April 2020

Sources used in this story

The information for this story came from an interview with Paula Te Amo (2012), the blood neice of Rangitahi Hanigan

  1.  Honoured for keeping a language alive (2009, June 2) Nelson Mail, p.2


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  • Kia ora Cindy

    Such a lovely story of Mum and her life, thank you so much cuz

    Nga mihi nui
    Kia tau te Rangimarie

    Posted by Danny Kahu Hanigan, 03/01/2024 9:41am (5 months ago)

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Further sources - Rangitahi Hanigan


  • Identity: Serenity. Notes from a conversation with Rangi Hanigan (2008 December) ACE newsletter
  • Our people: Rangitahi Hanigan (2010. December) MINT (NMIT newsletter)
  • Wilson, I. (2009, August 21) Rangi Hanigan: champion of Te Ataarangi. Golden Bay Weekly

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