He was born in Opurare and was educated at Te Kuiti Primary School and Te Kuiti High School. He attended Massey Agricultural College. In 1957 he joined the Labour Party and entered Parliament in 1969 when he won the highest majority of any candidate in the 1969 general election. He became MP for the Western Māori [now Te Tai Hauauru] electorate and held this position until he retired in 1996. After the 1984 general election he was apppointed Minister of Māori Affairs, Lands and Forests, and Minister in Charge of the Valuation Department. After the 1987 general election he retained the portfolio of Māori Affairs and assumed responsibility for the Iwi Transition Agency and the Ministry of Māori Affairs which both replaced the former Department of Māori Affairs. He has chaired the Māori Purposes Fund Board, has been vice-patron of the Waikato Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society, and President of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Football Association. He has held memberships of the Otorohanga Māori Branch of the Labour Party, the Labour Party’s Māori Policy Committee and the Ngarimu Scholarship Board. He belongs to the Ratana Church and is married with five children and seven grandchildren. Alongside his parliamentary career he has been a farmer in the King Country.
He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Waikato in 1999, was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2006, and received a University of Waikato Lifetime Award in 2008.
- Biography sent to Bridget Underhill on 27 November 1992.
- URL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koro_Wetere 29 April 2010.
- Butterworth, G.V. "Māori Candidates In Non-Māori Seats: How Does It Feel To Be A Candidate In Such A Seat?" Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 1.2 (Spring Issue [1969?]: 15-18.
- Te Māori editor G. V. Butterworth interviews Dr Doug Sinclair, Labour candidate for Raglan in the 1969 General Election, Koro Wetere, the new Western Māori candidate, and William Edwards who is Tongan and was the National candidate for Auckland Central.
- "Māori Representation - The Labour View." Tu Tangata 3 (Nov./Dec. 1981): 11.
- In this article Wetere examines the history of the Māori seats, legislation concerning Māori representation and eligibility to be on the Māori rolls. In the second half of the article Wetere articulates the Labour Party’s policies on Māori representation, noting that Māori are under-represented in Parliament, that the Māori electorates are too large, and that Māori seats should be determined by the numbers on Māori rolls and suggesting that those identifying themselves as Māori on the Census should be automatically placed on the Māori roll unless they specifically state otherwise.
- "Labour Māori Candidates." Tu Tangata 3 (Nov./Dec. 1981): 10.
- "New Minister of Māori Affairs Outlines Plans." Tu Tangata 20 (Oct./Nov. 1984): 10+.
- Wetere, as the new Minister of Māori Affairs, Lands and Forests in 1984, discusses in a talk to the N.Z. Māori Council the direction he will be focussing on which includes amongst other things, the introduction of the Māori Affairs Bill after full consultation with Māoridom, addressing unemployment, and official recogniton of the Māori language.
- Foreword. Rapuora: Health and Māori Women. Elizabeth Murchie. Wellington, N.Z.: Māori Women’s Welfare League, 1984. 5.
- Koro commends this publication as a ‘significant milestone for the League, and for Māoridom.’ He notes that ‘[o]ne of the important aspects of this report is that health is not treated in a purely physical sense. Although the physical health of our people leaves much to be desired it cannot be seen in isolation from the social, economic, and cultural influences which affect the well-being of people.’
- "The Labour Movement and Maāoridom: Review of the Past and a Prognosis for the Future." Ngaa Koorero O Te Hootoke 1985: Ko Taa Te Māori Waahanga: Equity, Social Justice and Maāoridom. Occasional Paper No. 30. [Hamilton], N.Z.: Centre for Maāori Studies and Research, University of Waikato, Feb. 1986. 1-6.
- "Koro Wetere on Iwi Authorities." Te Iwi o Aotearoa 18 (Feb. 1989): 17.
- An address by Koro Wetere, a former Minister of Māori Affairs, to the Runanganui O Ngāti Kahungunu, at Mihiroa Marae, Hastings, on 24th February 1989. Wetere discusses the ‘restructuring’ of the Department of Māori Affairs and outlines the steps and philosophy toward establishing iwi empowerment as articulated in the Government paper Urupare Rangapu.
- "Wainuiomata Kohanga Reo Initiative." Joint press statement by Koro Wetere and Sonya Davies." Te Iwi o Aotearoa 18 (Feb. 1989): 23.
- In this press statement dated 23 February 1989, Wetere and Davies announce the approval of a grant of $25,000 to the Pukeatua Kokiri Centre to provide Māori language teaching at 14 schools in Wainuiomata.
- "Koro’s Address to NZCTU National Hui in Huntly." Te Iwi o Aotearoa 19 (Mar. 1989): 3.
- In this speech presented to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions national hui, Wetere urges the Union, which has some 30,000 Māori in its membership, to ‘consider [its] role in the wider process of Māori development’ and ‘to align its objectives with those of the iwi authorities.’
- "1200 Jobs Created." Te Iwi o Aotearoa 24 (Aug. 1989): 20.
- In this press release of 17 August 1989 Wetere reports on the new jobs created for Māori by the Mana Enterprises Scheme.
- McLaughlin, Murray. "The loyal lieutenant." NZ Listener 11 Feb. 1989. 14-16(123.2553)
- "Address on Behalf of the Māori People of New Zealand." Nga Mahi Māori o Te Wao Nui A Tane: Contributions to an International Workshop on Ethnobotany, Te Rehua Marae, Christchurch, N.Z., New Zealand, 22-26 February 1988. Ed. Warwick Harris and Promila Kapoor. Christchurch, N.Z.: Botany Division, DSIR, 1990. 9-11.
- As Minister of Māori Affairs, Wetere welcomes those attending the International Workshop on Ethnobotany, and discusses the conservationist stance of traditional Māori society towards the natural world and its resources and the various issues that have impinged on this traditional knowledge.