Ka taea e nga hapu te noho tahi ake ake  - Families can be together foverer  

16/636 Private Rangiira Wi Katene – NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion  

Of Ngati Toa descent Rangiira Wi Katene was born on 11th February 1892 [i] in Motueka, Nelson, the son of Wiremu Tipo and Hareti (also known as Karani) Te Kairangi Katene[ii].

On the 16th November 1899 Hareti died, possibly from pleurisy shortly after the birth of the couple’s youngest daughter,                                                                                                                         Huria Ngarongoa Katene. The family was split up with                                                                                                                             some going with Wiremu, others to the whanau and the                                                                                                                         youngest three; Frederick, Manu and Huria Ngarongoa                                                                                                                           Katene to the Anglican orphanage in Motueka[iii].  
                                                                                                                   Rangiira also was at the orphanage from 1901 to 1903[iv]                                                                                                                       but then he was reunited with his father as brothers
                                                                                                                   Manu, Taku and Rangi are listed as attending Porirua                                                                                                                               School.[v]

                                                                                                                   Motueka Orphanage c 1880 

                                                                                        (Insert                Rangiira later went back to the Motueka to farm whanau
                                                                                                                   land as he gave this address when, on10th July 1915,
Rangi Wi Katene enlisted in the Maori Contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF)[vi] joining two of his younger brothers Taku and Frederick who had enlisted on the  1st July 1915. Rangi Wi Katene gave his father Wi Katene, Lyall Bay, Wellington as his next of kin. Rangiira had adjusted his date of birth to 1892 to ensure that he was in fact born in 1895.

Following basic training the three brothers 16/635 Private Taku, 16/636 Private Rangi Wi and 16/792 Private Frederick Bennett Wi Katene left New Zealand on 18th September 1915, on the HMNZTS Waitemata with other elements of the 2nd  Maori Contingent[vii].

                                                16/636 Private Rangiira Wi Katene  c1915 

Privates Katene arrived in Egypt on 26th October 1915, at this stage the
Gallipoli campaign was drawing to a close so the brothers remained in
Egypt. The withdrawal of the ANZAC Forces from Gallipoli was followed
by reorganisation within the NZEF as it prepared to move to the Western
Front. Private Katene was posted to the Wellington Infantry regiment in
January 1916 then later to the NZ Pioneer Battalion.

The Battalion was formed February 1916 and included elements of the
Maori Contingent, a small contingent of 50 Cook Island Maori and
elements of the Otago Mounted Rifles.

On 9th April 1916 Private Katene as part of the NZ Pioneer Battalion sailed
for France. The NZ Division was moved up to the Armentieres sector of the
front to gain experience in trench warfare. On 15th May 1916 Private
Katene was admitted to No 3 Australian Field Ambulance with Gastric
Enteritis remaining in hospital for two weeks before rejoining the Pioneers.

On the 9th September 1916 Private Katene was admitted to hospital a
second time being treated at the No 36 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS)
before being sent to the No 1 General Hospital at Estaples, Private Katene’s
military papers note ‘TB Glands neck and Adenitis.’ The condition resulted
in Private Katene being evacuated back to the UK on the 17th September
1916 being admitted to the No 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton.
Private Katene remained in hospital until the 4th November 1916 when
he was discharged to work at Walton. In January 1917 Private Katene was
sent to the Codford Depot for possible redeployment but was again in hospital with glands and later mumps. The ongoing medical issues resulted on 29th May 1917 with Private Katene being sent to Torquay Depot where he was assessed by a medical board which determined that he was unfit for active service on account of TB glands - neck.

Arrangements were then made to return Private Katene to New Zealand and he sailed from England on 23rd July 1917 arriving in New Zealand on 26th September 1917. Private Katene was granted one month’s leave and was then discharged from the NZEF on 23rd October 1917 ‘on no longer being physically for war service on account of pre enlistment disability aggravated by active service’.

Rangiira Wi Katene gave his intended address as Manaia, Taranaki where the Katene family held land and where he again went farming. Rangiira married Mere Robinson, the couple had eight children but Rangiira’s health was not good and he was frequently hospitalised and also sent to the Pukeora Sanatorium at Waipukurau[viii]. The sanatorium was built in 1918 to care for soldiers returning from World War One and suffering from Tuberculosis[ix]. Rangiira’s last visit to the Sanatorium was in late 1933 he was then sent home to spend his last days with his family.

Rangiira Wi Katene died on 14th January 1934, aged 39, and is buried in Manaia, South Taranaki.

The descendants of Rangiira Wi Katene who provide their treasured photo of their grandfather & great grandfather
and provided information on his life following his discharge from the NZEF.

The dedication was supplied by Rangiira Wi Katene's family 

Four of Rangiira Wi Katene’s brothers also served in the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion
16/792 Lance Corporal Frederick (Fred) Bennett Wi Katene
19927 Corporal Hari Wi Katene
37771 Private Manu Katene  (aka Joe Bird Cotton)
16/635 Lance Corporal Taku Katene

Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military files
Rangiira Wi Katene’s whanau oral history

Motueka Anglican Orphanage 1880: Katene Family
Private Rangiira Wi Katene c1915: Katene family
NZ Pioneers France 1918: RSA collection National Library

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/636 Private Rangiira Wi Katene
[ii] NZ BDM
[iii] Uncle Fred’s Vision for Ngati Poneke, 
[iv] Katene Family history
[v] Roll of Honour – they also served, Porirua School Honour Board
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military files: 16/636 Private Rangi Wi Katene
[vii] Auckland Cenotaph Database
[viii] Katene Whanau oral history
[ix]  Pukeora Sanatorium – Wikipedia
Maori Pioneers on Western Front 1918