Rowley Habib was born and raised in Oruanui, the son of Anipatene Pitiroi of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, and Lebanese father, Hannah Habib. He was educated at Oruanui Native School, Taupo Public School, Te Aute College and Ardmore Teachers’ College. It was while he was at Ardmore that he "got the first urge to write". During 1954 two of his short prose pieces, "Consolation" and "The End", were entered, without his knowledge, into the short story competition of Farago, the Ardmore College Annual Magazine; these stories won first and second prizes. Habib left Training College and began writing while supporting himself by working as a labourer, timber-mill hand, bushman, post-splitter, freezing worker, clerk, book-packer, housemaster, groundsman, "postie", storeman, linesman, scrub-cutter, factory-hand, wharfie, building construction site labourer and truck driver. He was a member and vice president of Te Arai te Uru Māori Club in Dunedin from In 1972 he received a Literary Fund grant and in 1975 was the second person to receive the Māori Purposes Fund Board writer’s award. He was a founding member of Nga Puna Waihanga and assisted in administering its first conference in 1973. In 1974 Habib, Don Selwyn and Earl Spencer co-wrote and scripted a six-part television series of half-hour documentaries on Māori culture and art entitled "Tihei Mauriora". In 1977 Habib and Richard Turner made a film about contemporary Māori poets called Ka Tutaki Nga Awa Rua (Two Rivers Meet). In 1976 Habib and Jim Moriarty founded the Māori theatre company Te Ika A Maui Players, which was the only Māori theatre group in the country at that time. Te Ika A Maui Players gave the first performance of Habib’s play Death Of The Land in 1976; this was screened on television and broadcast on radio in 1977 and 1978. In 1982 Habib won the Feltex Television Award for Best Script with his play "The Protesters", and in 1984 was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. Since 1984 he worked full-time as a writer and on establishing a papakainga on family land at Oruanui. Habib wrote poetry, short stories, plays, reviews and non-fiction articles which were published in a large number of journals and anthologies. He also worked on a novel. In later life he wrote under the Māori version of his name: Rore Hapipi.
"Habib continued to write and publish, and occasionally spoke at theatre conferences. In June 2011 Taupō Museum, Taupō Library and local Māori combined to mark Rowley Habib Week. The veteran scribe helmed workshops and readings, alongside a screening of The Protestors — and a talk recalling Habib's beginnings, growing up in a largely Māori-populated timber mill town near Taupo."
"In 2013 he was honoured for his lifelong contribution to Māori Arts, at the annual Te Waka Toi awards."
Rowley Habib passed away on 3 April 2016. He was 83.
- Interview and correspondence with Habib, 22 Aug. 1992, 22 Oct. 1996, 9 Aug. and 15 Oct. 1998, 30 April, 4 and 5 May 2004.
- Te Ha Questionnaire, 1992.
- Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982.
- "Rowley Habib: A New Voice in New Zealand Writing." Te Ao Hou 47 (1964): 14-15.
https://www.nzonscreen.com/person/rowley-habib-rore-hapipi/biography 3 September 2016