More information on ‘Tap’ Heperi

Photo: Next Graduating Squadron, No. 3 Wireless School, Squadron 65,  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 1943. From WAGMag, September 43 issue, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

Photo: Next Graduating Squadron, No. 3 Wireless School, Squadron 65, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 1943.
From WAGMag, September 43 issue, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

Many thanks as always to Chris, for sending me the following information on Tapua Heperi that he initially came across whilst researching his uncle, Gerry:

Early in my research into my uncle’s service and Wireless Operator training in Canada, I came across a copy of the September 1943 issue of “WAGMag”, the monthly magazine of No 3 Wireless School in Winnipeg, and was excited to see a graduating class photo of 65 Squadron, with Gerry sitting front and centre!

Notable amongst the names listed below the photo was a “T. Heperi” – I hadn’t been expecting to see a Maori surname – and its owner “Tap Heperi” features prominently elsewhere in both this and the June and July issues of WAGMag, in 65 Squadron (class) news and various station sports results. Obviously respected by his peers, (and promoted to the rank of Corporal by the time he graduated) he is mentioned as a Squadron “senior”:

Class seniors, Tap Heperi, Errol Oakley and Jim Sutherland, are due a lot of credit for untiring representation throughout the entire course. From the boys, “thanks a lot”.”

He is mentioned as a member of the Squadron boxing team, and in a report of an away boxing match on June 30th 1943, against No.33 SFTS Carberry:

“Tapuli (sic) Hepiri took the only other decision for No. 3, when he outfought, outboxed and outgrimaced the heavy LAC Ayres from Carberry. Both boxers went at it hammer and tongs for three rounds, but Hepiri was slightly faster and used his left and his deceptive hip movement to advantage.”

– and again in games of “rugger” against Carberry on July 16th, and against No.5 AOS on 21 August 1943, where he helped “provide the power” in the forwards:

Outstanding of these is LAC Heperi, class senior for “A” flight. Tall and well built, this Maori lad likes plenty of fast action, having recently transferred his attention from punching opponents to kicking their shins. With LAC Hicks, another Newzie, he represented the squadron in rugger against Carberry some little time ago.

He must have been quite a sportsman!

Later, when I started to work my way through the the Wood crew’s op’s in the 75 ORBs, Dec 44 – April 45, it was another surprise to see the name of T. Heperi pop up as W/Op in the Clements crew! So I guess that Gerry would have known him well.

After the War, Tapua Peter Heperi apparently owned a dairy farm in in the Okaihau Valley, Northland, and archival National Film Unit footage exists of he and his family on the farm in the ’60’s. Although no longer with us, Google turns up another Tap Heperi, a singer of some note, who was born 8 October 1943 in Rawene, Northland, NZ, quite possibly conceived on final leave before his Dad shipped off to Canada!


6 thoughts on “More information on ‘Tap’ Heperi

  1. Lorraine Phillips

    Tapua Heperi, is my dad. He leaves behind 12 children, 55 grandchildren and over 90 great grandchildren and still counting. I remember my mum Grace Curry, telling us stories of him in the war. Being a warrant officer, the Tap Heperi you mentioned, is my cousin, who changed his name to my fathers name. His mother is my dads sister, Wikitoria Thompson. We are scattered around NZ, Hamilton, Auckland, Wellington, Western Australia, Adelaide and Utah. Large stomping grounds..
    My name is Lorraine Phillips, I have a twin brother, Inia Heperi.


  2. 75nzsquadron Post author

    Hi Lorraine – it’s wonderful to hear from you. As you probably have worked out, I am very keen to find out about all of the boys that flew with the Squadron during the war. If you can share anything you know about your cousin, I would be fascinated to hear about it. I cannot believe already the way that people have been pulled together via the common link of the Squadron.

    Once again, many thanks for contacting me and I look forward to perhaps hearing more from you – please feel free to contact me directly on;

    best regards



  3. Natalie Bowie

    Hi Simon, Tapua Heperi is my Grandfather, I do recall that my mum (Ripeka Gudgeon) who is the eldest of his 12 children was given a book with lots of information on 75nzsquadron, as I live in Australia I will pass on your information to her, maybe she will be able to help you a little more.



  4. 75nzsquadron Post author

    Hi Natalie
    It’s fantastic to hear from you and I would love to hear from your mother, regarding anything she can recall about Tap and his time in the Squadron

    take care



  5. Eru Heperi

    hi Simon Tap Heperi was my older brother. I was a twin but my twin brother died 5years ago aged 81. Tap and I learned morse code together before he went overseas. I was 6years younger and joined the airforce when I was 18 . My twin Waka joined the army and went overseas with the J-force


  6. Chris Newey

    Hi Lorraine, Natalie and Eru, I have only just seen your replies to the original post about your Dad, grandfather and brother – my uncle Gerry trained with Tapua in Canada, and was at Mepal at the same time, so I’m sure they must have known each other well. Sounds like he was a great guy! Like Simon, I would love to hear more about Tapua, and wonder if you have any photos or other info that you would be happy to share via this site. Also, I have collected quite a bit of info about Gerry’s training as a Wireless Operator and his time at Mepal, and would happy to copy you with the material that would be relevant to Tapua’s experience.
    If you are interested, please drop me a line at chrisATfoodworksDOTcoDOTnz.
    Cheers, Chris



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