Te Rangiataahua Kiniwe Royal

Rangiataahua Kiniwe
Also known as
Rangi, Te Rangiataahua
Date of death
Place of death
Rotorua, New Zealand

World War 1

WW1 Serial No
WW1 Rank
WW1 address
Unknown address, 38 Grey Street, Rotorua, New Zealand
WW1 next of kin
Mrs Keriati Kiniwe Royal (mother), Paeroa, New Zealand, Mrs P. Royal (wife), 38 Grey Street, Rotorua, New Zealand
WW1 embarkation body
Maori Reinforcements
WW1 embarkation unit
25th Reinforcements
WW1 last unit
New Zealand (Maori) Pioneer Battalion

World War 2

Serial No
Address on enlistment
38 Grey Street, Rotorua, New Zealand
Next of kin
Mrs Keriati Kiniwe Royal (mother), Paeroa, New Zealand | Mrs P. Royal (wife), 38 Grey Street, Rotorua, New Zealand

Read a biography of Te Rangiataahua Royal, in English and te reo Māori, on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography = Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau website.

Read this brief profile about Rangi Royal here.

This article appeared in the April 1992 NZ 28 Maori Battalion Reunion booklet.  

No. 5096 - Major Rangi ROYAL, MC and Bar, of Ngati Maru, Pai o Hauraki, Paeroa

Rangi Royal enlisted in 1917 for the 1st World War and served one year in New Zealand and one and a half years overseas. He was a fine rugby player and played against English teams and after the cessation of war, for Hokowhitu-a-tu.

He took his discharge in May 1919 and commenced that year working with what was then called the Native Department. He continued playing rugby and represented Rotorua and Bay of Plenty.

At the outbreak of World War II he enlisted and was appointed to the rank of Captain after completing an officer's course 25th November 1939. He became OC of B Company of the newly formed Maori Battalion.

Rangi served overseas in Greece and Crete and was awarded the Military Cross for "initiative, coolness and judgement." When serving in the first Desert Campaign of November December 1941 he was wounded at Gazala. For this action he received a bar to his M.C. He was recalled to New Zealand at the request of A.T. Ngata, to help train the reinforcements for the Battalion.

Discharged in 1944, he returned to the staff of Maori Affairs in Rotorua. He transferred to Wellington and was appointed Controller of Maori Social and Economic Welfare, a position he held until he retired. Rangi died in 1965, survived by his wife, Puhi, three daughters and two sons. Both sons served overseas, one in the Air Force, the other in the last reinforcement to the Maori Battalion.


Captain Royal, a senior officer and company commander of the Maori Battalion, has continuous records in Greece, Crete and Libya of bold and fearless leadership. In the last action at Gazala he led his men in the night attack on Point 181. After sweeping through the first fort he reformed his men to the right and went through the main fort, taking the troops which were resisting, ‘A' Company in the rear. He was then left in charge of organising the position against a counter-attack. This he did effectively, himself occupying the most forward and dangerous position, where, during the next day, he was wounded.

Comments (2)

Major Te Rangiataahua Kiniwe Roera, a formidable leader & role model for his descendents. We salute him as he did to his tūpuna's portraits of Tukukino & Taraia, who hung on the lounge wall when we were kids as we joined him before breakfast every morning at his home in Rotorua.

It's the night before Christmas Eve and after putting moko to sleep, I found myself thinking about what our 28th Maori Battalion might have been doing for Christmas in 1940. This would be their first Christmas overseas. I found a letter in which Rangi Royal describes their Christmas in such wonderful detail. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did.With the Maori BattalionCHRISTMAS IN ENGLANDLETTER FROM CAPTAIN RANGI ROYALBay of Plenty Beacon, 10 March 1941, Page 3Spending their first Christmas overseas members of the Maori Battalion in England did not, however, allow the festive season to pass without a celebration and in a letter to his people in Whakatane Captain Rangi Royal gives an interesting account of the manner in which the men endeavoured to make the occasion as happy as possible.His letter reads as follows:Well Xmas has gone by and the New Year has begun and when I look back upon it one cannot help remembering it as one of changing scenes with each scene crammed with incidents both happy and sorrowful. The happy part of it was when we were home this time last year and then the final leave. The sorrowful part was when we all parted to come away and then this Xmas being away from all that we have been used to at home—loved ones, friends and everybody—gaiety love and laughter all that and the home atmosphere we missed very much indeed this Xmas. It was nevertheless a good Xmas under the circumstances. We had 134 of our boys who sat down to dinner here in our billets. All our boys who were free from actual duties in our Bn. and in pakeha units also came along to dinner. And what a dinner it was. The preparations for it took a couple of days but we did not disclose our hand to other Coys, till the last minute when it was too late for them to copy us. The Bn. Fund allotted each Coy £10 to pay for extras. From the Xmas parcels we got our plum puddings, cake, biscuits, Toheroas, mussels (tinned), Huahuas (pork, kereru and Titi), lollies, cigarettes and jam. The boys took what required out of their parcels and pooled the rest for the dinner. We bought turkeys, fruit (fresh), nuts, tomato sauce, soft drinks, beer, pork, vegetables, dripping, tins of green peas and paper tablecloths. Whetu did the scrounging and I attended to the indoor arrangements. The boys all had leave Xmas Eve except a few chosen ones (10) and we started on the job of decorating and setting the tables. We had two main dining rooms and the officers had a small table for six of us. By ten o'clock we had our tables complete except for the hou kai. We were the only ones with the double decked tables and decorated and laid out a la Whakaturia and Papawharenui. Empty hair oil bottles were camouflaged into flower pots and holly leaves were flowers. Our trifles were made in town by a restaurant lady who also supplied the bowls free; jellies made on the premises by another lady and Horton Stewart made the fruit salad. By the time the boys got back everything was set. We allowed them all a peep—they'd have a look close their eyes and then remark "we're home again boys." It was really wonderful. Our funds from New Zealand had not arrived so we had a collection among a few of us and were able to collect £15 to spend in assisting to make our show as near as possible to what it is at home. We had to hire plates (large and small). The Colonel had a full course dinner with us and enjoyed it. He even had a piece of huahua. On the way up to the dinner the other boys had to pass two pubs and before arriving (late) they formed up and then approached in a line with hands on each others shoulders and doing a haka. The Colonel's eyes nearly popped out. The other boys were just seated but a few rushed out and welcomed them with a haka also. The Padre blessed the food and the feast started. There were two hangis one of pork and one of potatoes and vegetables. While other Coys had their hangis covered at 9 o'clock we did not cover ours till 10.30 and it was beautifully cooked. The turkeys (4) were boiled and then browned in the oven. After the pork etc. there was no room for the other things and no one touched the plum duffs, only a few had trifle and none had fruit salad and jellies. The Colonel went around and had a yarn with the boys, then we all sat down and had ours the same fare as the boys excepting that we could not get a look in at the "beer." The officers' dinner was postponed for 2 p.m. and as it was a parade we all had to attend and have another go but just a pick. I detailed Sunny and Tu to go to the hospitals with Whetu and I to visit two of our boys George Kingi (Te Puke) and Kerehoma (Horohoro) and take out a bit of the Xmas dinner and parcels. Toheroa soup was put on for tea and being a freezer the soup went down well. By midnight and leave was only to 10.30 the whole Coy was home with everything in the way of meal cleaned up. So ended Xmas day a day full of fun and joy for the boys—it was apparent they enjoyed it—and for me one of worry and agony. Except for the "absence without leave" and the little incident of the dinner there was nothing of any consequence. I was darn glad to get to bed that night. The one impressive part of the whole show was on Xmas Eve when at 11.45 p.m. I collected what were sober enough in the billets into the officers room and went through the significance of the evening in regard to ourselves and you at home. It was the time when you were all thinking and praying for us Xmas morning there and Xmas Eve here. At midnight the Christmas in New Zealand and England meets etc. etc. etc. Read them the messages from the Bn. which was to be broadcasted home and extracts from letters received from Hemana and Dan. The boys spoke, four representatives, and tears were streaming down their faces as they spoke. It was very sad but, it was an opportunity to get things off their chests and at midnight we had a prayer meeting Tu Manahi being the parson. The padre was out even at that hour so we had to carry on without him. After prayers more speakers including Whetu got up and said how much better they then felt about things for they had been thinking about home all evening and wondering how their families and loved ones at home were faring. The meeting just then concluded allowed us all to meet together with one common thought and prayer as no doubt you were doing at home at the same time. They all felt settled in mind and at peace. It was peculiar how it happened. We were sitting and gazing into the fire and probably all four of us officers were thinking of home when it suddenly occurred to me that it would be a good idea if the boys also could share in our little circle of quiet and concentrated thinking. So I asked Whetu to contact Padre Harawira and ask him to report to our billets before midnight. Tu Manahi got the boys down and when Whetu reported that the Padre had not come home, we decide to carry on which we did.The whole week had been easy except a couple of 21 mile route marches is just a canter to us now. Rules and regulations were more or less slackened and the boys made a welter of it. To-day I gave them a lecture and told them that things are going to be tightened up all around again and as long as they played the game things would be alright. The tins of huahua and other Xmas parcels arrived during the week and have now been all consumed. They also were pooled and put on the table for everybody. The last of them, the pipis were boiled and had for tea to-night. The ideal parcel of all parcels which were received by the boys in the Bn. were those sent by "Doc and Rangi." They sent quite a number to our boys and those Hawke's Bay boys known to them. The parcel contained tins Toheroa soup, oysters, mussels, lobster, white bait and 30 cigs. As far as our Maori boys are concerned it is ideal and could be better if instead of the soup the toheroas in a tin could be sent. They don't eat much cake or biscuits and much less the barley sugar tins that are sent. They are wasted or given away. Coffee and milk tins are also a washout. What the boys prefer is something that they can open up and eat, without having to mess around with them and they cannot get over here. The huahua pork was lovely and we enjoyed them very much; the pipis also were tasty and the pipi soup was very satisfying. Kia Ora te maapu na rataou i mahi mai enei kai. The only kai missing from our Xmas table were eels, raw fish, kinas and pauas. Regarding Xmas greetings. Outside of Dan's letter which arrived Xmas Eve the Coy did not get any although one general cable was despatched. It is well, for so much money is being spent and wasted in telegrams that we’d much rather it was so. I hope you all get the broadcast. I was terribly disappointed over that. The original greeting was drafted by me and Charlie tells me that that it was cut right down to get in a bit of pakeha stuff of no consequence at all. I am enclosing the Copy of original "Mihi" which should have gone over and tell Dan he can broadcast that as coming from us who are ever mindful that we are Maoris and that our own people would prefer that our "Mihi" should be entirely Maori. Ka nui te pakeha hei mihi i te Pakeha. I believe it was cut down here before Charlie left here. Ko matou a tahi ra ka hiki atu i konei kite tima hei mau ia matou. Kua riro no napo (te ope o mua me nga taputapu katoa a matou. Nga i waiho ko nga kakahu me te pu. Kaore i te mohiotia ko hea matou tae rawa atu tenei reta kei te waahi ke ahua ko Ihipa no reira ko nga reta ma huri ki reira ma reira e whakau mai kia matou. Ko te uunga o te ope Maori mai o muri ia matou ko reira matou.Regarding the remittances sent over. They came the day after Xmas but we drew the balance yesterday making a total received of £153 12s. The boys have held a meeting and Ngatiawa, Pikiao Tuara are decided that their portions are to be a part of Coy Funds earmarked for their own boys. N'Whakaue are still fighting over theirs. There is a faction wanting a distribution of the whole amount and the more thoughtful ones are holding out for Coy Funds same as others. I am against distribution as I hold that those N'Whakaue who had left New Zealand as part of any expeditionary force and were away at Xmas are entitled to this fund. So Whetu and I decided that apart from expenditure for Xmas kei te mauria te moni ki runga tima hei tiaki ia ratou a whiti noa. Kaore he pei mo matou a tae noa a ai te koreko mai e whitu ki runga moana katahi ka tea. The Tuhourangi boys are very disappointed indeed and they cannot understand why the tribe has let them down. Ngati Manawa and Tuhoe boys are the same. The only explanation I can give them is that their tribal contributions have been diverted to the Battalion Fund. I am writing Dan as soon asI can get time to do so. There are so many to write and thank that it looks as if I'll be writing for the next few weeks. Ko te runga o a matou kai pakeha pihiketi (kua pangu mo te kai) kua tukua mo runga tima a kia tae ranei matou. He mea whawhao ki roto i nga ponaka i raro i nga ingoa huhua noaiho kia riro ai. He hopi he putu, ho ana, a he aha noaiho nga ngoa. Wi Button is promoted to Staff Sergeant and reattached Anaru and transferred (on paper) to Base Pay Office and attached to us. Ruhi is back with us now with his commission. Whetu is transferred temporarily to O.C. Headquarters Coy and is having a lot of fun at present with his ragtime Coy as he calls them. B Coy is drawn on for any special jobs like that. Horton is acting Second in Command to me and is making a darn good job of it too. Very reliable indeed. Hope you have had a jolly Xmas and New Year. Give my love to all the children and the family at home. I am writing Tiiti regarding funds for the Hauraki boys but you can give them the tip to get going for they the boys do not share in any benefits from these funds we have received for the Coy.