Ranginui Parewahawaha Leonard

Ranginui Parewahawaha Leonard (23 September 1872 – 29 December 1984) was a New Zealand weaver, farmer and kuia (respected elder). At the time of her death in 1984, age 112, she was the oldest woman in New Zealand, and one of the last people living who remembered the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.

Ranginui Parewahawaha Leonard
Ranginui Parewahawaha

(1872-09-23)23 September 1872
Foxton, New Zealand
Died29 December 1984(1984-12-29) (aged 112)
Rotorua, New Zealand
Resting placePuhirua Urupā
Occupation(s)Weaver and farmer
F.H. Leonard
(m. 1894)



Leonard was born on 23 September 1872 in Foxton, New Zealand.[1] She was the only child of Ngāti Raukawa parents,[2] and married her husband in 1894 through an arranged marriage.[3] She grew up in Rotorua and witnessed the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.[1] Shortly before her death in 1984 she spoke to the National Film Unit about her memories of the eruption for the documentary Tarawera (1986); newspaper The Press described her as New Zealand's "last living link" with the eruption.[4]

Leonard and her husband were farmers at Ngongotahā and had six daughters and four sons together; two of their children died young and one son was killed in World War II.[1] She was a weaver and continued weaving late in life; her daughter Rangimahora Reihana-Mete, grandson Karl Leonard and great-granddaughter Pip Devonshire are all noted weavers.[5][6] Another of her grandchildren, Te Ururoa Flavell, is a member of the New Zealand parliament.[7]

On her 112th birthday, Leonard was presented with the Freedom of the City of Rotorua.[8] She attributed her longevity to her sweet tooth.[9] At the time of her death at Rotorua Hospital on 29 December 1984, she was New Zealand's oldest woman and one of the three oldest people in the Commonwealth.[8][10]


  1. ^ a b c "Parewahawaha Ranginui Leonard". Tu Tangata (22): 22. 1 February 1985. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  2. ^ "Henry Morshead Symons". Pioneers of Foxton: Book Two. Foxton Historical Society. 1989. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  3. ^ "Woman 100". The Press. 27 September 1972. p. 6. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  4. ^ "Tarawera re-created and remembered". The Press. 10 June 1986. p. 19. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  5. ^ Whare, Akuhata (8 May 2012). "Karl Leonard hopes to take his weaving further". The Rotorua Daily Post. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  6. ^ Duff, Michelle (16 November 2007). "Woven into history". Manawatu Standard. p. 2. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  7. ^ Husband, Dale (21 October 2014). "Te Ururoa Flavell: Yes Minister". E-Tangata. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Oldest woman dies in Rotorua, aged 112". The Press. 31 December 1984. p. 2. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  9. ^ "Credit to sweet tooth". The Press. 25 September 1985. p. 17. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Few older than Mrs Leonard". The Press. 28 September 1984. p. 33. Retrieved 7 August 2023.