Rangiwaho Whaanga the last of Māori Battalion D Company passes away

By Aroha Treacher

The last member of the D Company Māori Battalion, Rangiwaho Whaanga,  has passed away at the age of 89-years-old.

Born in 1927 he is a descendant of Rakaipaaka in the Ngāti Kahungunu region, fluent in Te Reo Māorihe oldest of 12 boys and three girls in his family.

He attended Te Aute College and while he was home on holiday decided that he would enlist in the Army. He told his father but never told his mother.

“When he went back to school, the enlistment papers arrived at home, that’s when our mother read the call-up papers and she cried and cried, but it was too late, he had already signed them,” says his younger brother Paora Whaanga.

In 1944 at just 16-years-old he went away with the 28th Māori Battalion and by the time he was 21-years-old he had served in four different tours of duty, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore.

In May last year he was given a special award presented by the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae at the Matariki Living Taonga Awards an event created to acknowledge role models and those who make a difference in the lives of others.

Rangiwaho Whaanga will be laid to rest in the Ihaka Maihi cemetery in Nuhaka. The service for his nehu begins at 11am tomorrow at Kahungunu Marae in Nuhaka.