She was born in Auckland and was educated at St Mary’s Collegiate School in Stratford and St Hilda’s Diocesan School in Dunedin. She continued her studies at the University of Auckland from 1980-1986 and graduated with a B.A. in 1984 and an M.A. (First Class Hons) in English in 1986. In 1984 she received a Senior Prize in English from the University of Auckland. She attended the Auckland College of Education in 1987 and graduated with a Diploma of Teaching. She was a secondary school teacher at Aorere College from 1987-1989 and in 1989 was awarded a Class B Secondary Teaching Certificate. She has spent nine years from 1990-1998 developing the course and teaching English for the Wellesley Programme at the University of Auckland. She is currently Senior Tutor in English at the University of Auckland and is co-ordinator for the Wellesley Programme. Whaitiri has research interests in Māori women’s poetry and equity and foundation programmes at tertiary level. Whaitiri co-edited two volumes of Te Pua - A Journal of Māori Women’s Writing, and co-edited Homeland (Manoa: New Writing from America, the Pacific, and Asia 9.1 (1997). She has an essay in the publication Growing Up Māori by Witi Ihimaera.
- Correspondence from Whaitiri on 19 Nov. 1992 and 9 July 1998.
- "Murihiku Is In My Blood." Growing Up Māori. Ed. Witi Ihimaera. Auckland, N.Z.: Tandem Press, 1998. 171-186.
- "Hokinga Mai." Stage and Radio (1992). No further details.
- Rev. of Toi Wahine. Wasafari (1996). No further details.
- "Māori Women’s Poetry." Half-hour broadcast on the Concert Programme, 1993.
- "Who Am I?" Te Pua. 1.1 (Sept. 1992): 10-14.
- Whaitiri writes of the processes in her life in New Zealand and overseas which impacted on her identity as a Māori.
- "Editorial...Māori Women in Politics." Te Pua 2.1 & 2 (1993): 5-7.
- Whaitiri questions what gains have been achieved for Māori women since attaining the vote when they ‘still lag behind’ Pakeha women in economic and educational achievement and independence. Despite Māori women’s under-representation in Parliament and in the political arena, Whaitiri writes of their significant contributions in the work of Māori Women’s Welfare League and Te Kohanga Reo.
- "Rapua Te Tumu - Search For The Source." Mana - a South Pacific Journal of Language and Literature 10.2 (1994). No further details.
- "The Forest of Tāne: Māori Literature Today." Homeland. Ed. Frank Stewart. Feature ed. Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan. Honolulu, HI: Hawai’I UP, 1997. 76-82. (Manoa 9.1)
- Co-authors Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan.
- "Robert Whaitiri." Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography. Ed. Jane Thomson. Dunedin, N.Z.: Longacre in association with Dunedin City Council, 1998. No further details.
- "Whaitiri, Robert Agrippa Moerngaroa 1916-1996." Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, update 22 June 2007. URL: http://dnzb.govt.nz/
- "Whaitiri, Te Waari Kahukura 1912-1996." Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, update 22 June 2007. URL: http://dnzb.govt.nz/
- "From the Fringe to the Centre." Encyclopaedia of the Pacific Island. Ed. Paul Sharrad. No further details