Ngaio was born in Auckland and is grand-daughter of Te Makirangi Te Rito of Kihitu, Wairoa and great grand-daughter of Eru Mete of Wairoa. Through him she is descended from Ngapuhi chief Patuone. She attended Three Kings Primary School, Auckland, Lansdowne School in Masterton, Queen Victoria School for Māori Girls and Epsom Girls’ Grammar. She was the second Māori to be awarded an American Field Service Scholarship on which she spent a year in South Dakota. She went on to study at Auckland University for two years. She has won awards for her pottery. Her married name is Ngaio Wharekura.
- Correspondence from Toi Maihi on 2 Nov. 2004.
- Te Ao Hou 16 (1956): 19.
- Kaa, Keri. “The American Field Service.” Te Ao Hou 53 (1965): 53.
- "A Year in America." Ngaio Te Rito. Te Ao Hou 22 (1958): 59-61.
- A description of Te Rito’s year in South Dakota as an American Field Service Scholar.