Rangi Hetet

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Detail of a poupou by Rangi Hetet hanging in the Dowse Art Museum. One of a pair of poupou commissioned by the museum on their fifth anniversary in 1975. The poupou are carved wooden figures with inset pāua shell eyes. This figure represents Te Puni.

Rangikaiamokura Wirihana Hetet ONZM (born 18 April 1937) is a Maori master-carver (tohunga whakairo) of Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Ngāti Maniapoto descent.

Early life and family[edit]

Hetet was born in 1937 to Charles Wilson Hetet and Lillian (née Smallman). He married Erenora Puketapu at Waiwhetu Marae in 1960, and they have four children. Their daughter Veranoa Hetet is a notable weaver.


Hetet first rose to recognition in New Zealand as one of the carvers of the meeting house at Waiwhetū in the 1950s,[1] during which he met Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, who become his wife.[2] His grandmother, Rangimārie Hetet was a renowned weaver from Te Kuiti, who passed her skills on to Erenora Puketapu-Hetet.

Hetet trained in fraternity of carvers known as Konae Aronui under legendary tohunga whakairo Tuhaka Kapua and later Hone Taiapa at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.[3] He had only two apprentices, including Sam Hauwaho.[4]

As his wife did, Hetet sees his art as having a spiritual dimension:

The carver Rangi Hetet says that the materials he uses are no simply materials—they have a spiritual nature, being descended from Tane. A carver should show respect for Tane by not carving in too flamboyantly a manner; he should, of course, inject his own mauri into the work, but should do so for the sake of the work, not his own sake. Hetet tries to use raw timber rather than milled timber so as to be able to show respect by following the nature of character of the timber.[5]

Hetet's commissions have included a number of meeting houses, four waka taua (war canoes 60+ feet long)[6] and a number of institutional pieces such as the one at LINZ.[7][8] One of Hetet's 1989 sesquicentenary canoes was subsequently involved in a legal stoush.[9]

In the 2004 New Year Honours he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Māori master carver.[10]

He is still active and exhibiting in venues such as the Māori Art Market.[11]


  1. ^ "THE MAORI HEART OF THE HOUSE". atiawa.com. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. Six carvers were employed, namely Charles Tuarau in the planning stages, and later Hone Taiapa as head carver, together with Ngata Ruru, James Ruru, Rangi Hetet and Charles Rutene. 
  2. ^ "Obituary: Erenora Puketapu-Hetet". nzherald.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. When the marae was built in the 1950s, Erenora, who had graduated to weaving tukutuku panels, met and married Rangi Hetet, the master carver brought in to help with the job. 
  3. ^ "Te Papa's Programme during International Festival of the Arts 2006". tepapa.govt.nz. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Sam HauwahoKaiwhakairo". samhauwaho.com. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. Sam Hauwaho is of Tuhoe and Te Aitanga a Hauiti descent. 
  5. ^ Koggel, Christine M. (2011). "Moral Issues in Global Perspectives". books.google.com. p. 286. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Waka taua - Waka – canoes". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. The waka taua (war canoe) on the left is Te Aniwaniwa, and the one on the right is Te Raukura. They are the work of master carver Rangi Hetet and his assistants. The vessels are being prepared for their dawn launch onto Wellington Harbour in 1989. 
  7. ^ "Taonga Whakairo - Carved Treasure | Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) - Toitū te whenua". linz.govt.nz. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. This taonga was created by the tohunga whakairo (master carver) Rangi Hetet who is of Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Maniapoto descent. Two of Rangi's daughters weaved the tukutuku (lattice work) that is part of this artwork. 
  8. ^ "Te Ao Mārama Ranginui, Papatūānuku". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Carving Wellington's waka". stuff.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. Wellington City Council commissioned a 14.5-metre waka, Te Raukura, in 1989 for use in the city's sesquicentenary celebrations and it was carved under the supervision of Waiwhetu carver Rangi Hetet. 
  10. ^ New Year Honours List 2004. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Artists at Maori Art Market 2011". maoriartmarket.com. 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.