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Rangi Ruru Wananga Karaitiana

  • Service number
    WWII 39583 AWMM
  • Also known as
    Ruru Karaitiana AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Last rank
  • War
Gravestone of Rangi Ruru Wananga Karaitiana, Tahoraiti urupa. Image kindly provided by Jim Crook (April 2019). Image is subject to copyright restrictions.

Gravestone of Rangi Ruru Wananga Karaitiana, Tahoraiti urupa. Image kindly provided by Jim Crook (Ap …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Rangi Ruru Wananga AWMM
  • Surname
    Karaitiana AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Ruru Karaitiana AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII 39583 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    4 March 1909 AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Oringi, Dannevirke, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mrs Ruma Karauria (mother), Oringi, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Composer of the hit songs "Blue Smoke" written on the Aquitania in 1940 and later "Its Just Because" a tribute to the force serving in Korea

      Listed as Rangi Wananga Karaitiana on the Nominal Roll and as both Rangi Ruru Wananga Karaitiana or Ruru Karaitiana by the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. AWMM
    • Rangi Ruru Wananga Karaitiana was the composer of the popular song 'Blue Smoke'. He recalled, ‘We were on the troopship Aquitania in 1940 off the coast of Africa when a friend drew my attention to some passing smoke. He put the song in my lap. It was a natural’. Within a day or two Karaitiana had completed the lyric and melody in his head, and performed the song for a shipboard concert. Although it was performed at various troop concerts during the war, ‘Blue smoke’ was rejected by London publishers.

      Back in New Zealand in 1947, Karaitiana assembled a quintet, and in October 1948 they recorded a version of ‘Blue Smoke’ in Wellington with singer Pixie Williams. The backing music was Hawaiian-style, and instruments included guitars, ukulele and lap-steel guitar. The 78 rpm disc was the first record wholly produced in New Zealand from composition to pressing, and provided a début hit-seller for the New Zealand-owned TANZA (To Assist New Zealand Artists) record label. Although Karaitiana considered it ‘a poor first effort’, ‘Blue Smoke’ topped New Zealand radio hit parades for six weeks, and sold more than 20,000 copies within a year.
      refer: Public - Lorraine Mona - Researcher - 2 August 2022 -
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About death

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  • Death
    15 December 1970 AWMM
    Age 61 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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Command item
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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
02 August 2022Lorraine MonaGisborneResearcher

The development of the Online Cenotaph is an ongoing process; updates, new images and records are added weekly. In some cases, records have yet to be confirmed by Museum staff, and there could be mistakes or omissions in the information provided.

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