Rana Waitai was born in Wanganui, the son of Mavis and "Budge" Rangi Waitai. He was educated at Queens Park Primary School, Wanganui Intermediate School and Wanganui Technical College. At the age of seventeen he began working at a forestry camp at Karioi and later worked for Ford Motors in the Hutt Valley. In 1965 Waitai attended the Trentham Police College and began general police duty in Wellington. He became a detective in 1969 and detective sergeant in 1972. He completed six years in the Wellington CIB and in 1975 became a senior sergeant. He was an extra-mural student at Massey University from 1976-77 and from 1978-81 studied at Victoria University. Waitai graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Masters of Public Policy. He was Police Superintendent in Gisborne. From 1996-1999 he was New Zealand First MP for Te Puku O Te Whenua and was Chair of the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee. In 2000 Waitai enrolled at Victoria University Law School and graduated LLB in 2003 and LLM in December 2004. His subject of focus was terrorism. Waitai in now a practising lawyer in Wanganui.
Waitai attended a creative writing course at Waiheke Island in January 1991 and since 1992 has written numerous newspaper articles. He is a weekly columnist for Sunday News and has a fortnightly column in the Wanganui Chronicle. Waitai is working on a fiction book/screenplay about his police undercover experiences.
- Correspondence from Waitai: 24 Nov. 1992, 13 July 1998 and 14 Dec. 2004.
- McLoughlin, David. “Rana Waitai: The Sheriff of Gisborne.” North And South May (1992): 103.
- Nga Whakaaro: A Viewpoint on Māori Issues: A Report to the New Zealand Planning Council on Issues Arising from the Round Table Deliberation. Staff Paper No. 2 (June 1982). [Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand Planning Council], 1982.
- This is a comprehensive report of various sessions of the New Zealand Planning Council’s Round Table that met during Waitai’s secondment to the Planning Council Secretariat for a 16 month period in 1980 and 1981. Waitai writes that the objective of this paper ‘is to inform the reader of some of the lesser known initiatives of modern Māoridom - aspects often quite well known in the Māori world itself, but which are not of the kind that command the attention of national decision makers.’
- "Research Paper on ‘Drag Queens’." Rpt. as "Modes of a Dress: Drag Queens in Wellington". Shades of Deviance. Palmerston North, N.Z.: Dunmore, 1983. 126-139.
- In this paper Waitai presents research into Wellington’s drag queen population, examines why there is a high preponderance of Māori drag queens and provides profiles of four drag queens. This paper was part of the requirements for his B.A. assignments at Victoria University.
- "Examining The Current Theories Of Violence." Gisborne Herald Jan. 1992: 2.
- A discussion of the connection between unemployment and violent crime which was published nationwide in January 1992.
- "Māori Economic Development, 1960-1980." Research for Masters of Public Policy. Victoria U, 1981.
- McLoughlin, David. "Rana Waitai: The Sheriff of Gisborne." North And South May 1992: 96-103.
- A biographical account of Waitai which includes discussion on Waitai’s Gisborne Herald article "Examining The Current Theories of Violence".
- "Ruatoria’s notoriety unjustified - Waitai." Dominion Sunday Times 2 Aug. 1992: 3.
- Gadd, B. RIMU 1.1 (1984): 13.