Kemp Tuirirangi Profile

John Dix
13 Nov 2018

Although Kemp Tuirirangi may not be one of the most familiar names when great New Zealand guitarists are mentioned, he has been a prominent figure on the Wellington and Wairarapa blues and rock scenes for half a century. He is featured on few recordings, but you can hear him on one New Zealand classic – BLERTA’s ‘Dance All Around The World’. A later BLERTA single, the raucous ‘Joy Joy’ better displays Tuirirangi’s abilities.

Tuirirangi was born in Masterton on 4 June 1949 and was attracted to music at an early age. “I picked up the ukulele really young and my uncle, my mother’s brother, played guitar – so at family gatherings I would always go watch him. I really wanted to be an All Black but that didn’t work out and I figured that it would be nice to play music so music it was.”

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Some members of BLERTA, with their families, 16 October 1971. Among those visible in the back row, from right, are Bruno Lawrence, Kemp Tuirirangi, and Fane Flaws. Corben Simpson is in front of Flaws, in shades. Geoff Murphy is sprawled in front, in barefeet and woollen jumper. 
Photo credit: The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
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The BLERTA bus with Ian Miles, Greg Taylor, Fane Flaws, Kemp Tuirirangi, Tony Barry, Ian Watkin, Arnold Tihana, Alan O'Neill, Helen Whitford, Corben Simpson, and Bruno Lawrence.
Photo credit: Taranaki Photo News, April 1973
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BLERTA, 1973. Chris Seresin, Greg Taylor, Fane Flaws, Ian Watkin, Kemp Tuirirangi, Bruno Lawrence.
Photo credit: The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
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The BLERTA bus
Photo credit: Corben Simpson Collection
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