He was born and educated in the Chathams. He left school in standard two and began working on ships at an early age, eventually becoming a master mariner in command of M.V. Totara. He went into military service in the Merchant Navy from In 1947 he began working for Anchor Shipping, Union Shipping Company "as the only full-blooded Māori shipmaster in the world". He has been a member of the Ngāti Poneke Young Māori Club. He has worked as an actor with various television appearances, and acted as pastor in the first Māori opera Waituhi. He was awarded the Māori Leadership Award in 1981, the Wellington City Council Civic Award in 1987, the Wellington SPCA Award 1988, and the QSM 1990. He is a past warden of the NZ Company of Master Mariners and is an honorary member and kaumatua of the Rangatahi Māori Women’s Welfare League. He was involved in many organizations and was president of the Golden Age Movement. He was an avid diary-keeper for many decades and wrote daily up until the day of his death.
- Alistair Morrison. “On the Look-Out for Māori Journalists.” Tu Tangata 33 (1986/87): 44- 45.
- New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa. Vol. One - 1992. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa, 1992. 309.
- "Life at Sea." Te Ao Hou 58 (1967): 55.
- A short autobiographical account of Whaitiri’s career as a master-mariner. After leaving school in the Chathams at an early age he worked with various shipping companies, served in the merchant navy in the Pacific and Atlantic during the Second World War and in 1947 began working for the Anchor Shipping Company.