Kemp Tuirirangi Profile

John Dix
Published: 13 Nov 2018
Updated: 20 Jun 2020

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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BLERTA at work. From left: Tony Barry, Ian Watkin, Kemp Tuirirangi, and Greg Taylor.
Photo credit: Greg Taylor collection
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Kemp Tuirirangi. 
Photo credit: Bob Smith collection
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StilleRipple: Kevin Wickens, Murray Loveridge, Kemp Tuirirangi.
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Kemp Tuirirangi, right, during the filming of a Mitsubishi advertisement. Bob Smith second from left. 
Photo credit: Bob Smith collection
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Sons and Lovers, late 1960s (L-R): Scratch (Lyn) Rae, Alan (Moony) Moon, Kemp Tuirirangi, Ali Matthews, and Peter Leef. The bus - and Tuirirangi - would soon be inherited by BLERTA. 
Photo credit: Alan Moon collection
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The BLERTA bus
Photo credit: Corben Simpson Collection
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Kemp Tuirirangi posing with a saxophone, while playing guitar in Wellington band Krazy Mama in the late 1970s. With him is bass-player Eddie MacDonald, formerly of The Avengers. 
Photo credit: Victoria Ginn
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Kemp Tuirirangi (second from left) and Bob Smith (far right) on set for a Mitsubishi advertisement, c. 1990s. 
Photo credit: Bob Smith collection
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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 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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Stilleripple - Loner Postponer (1972)
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