Kiri was born in Rotorua and educated at Horohoro Native School and Rotorua High and Grammar School. She continued her studies at Ardmore Teachers College and was awarded a Teachers Certificate. She studied at Victoria University and graduated in the late 1960s with a B.A. majoring in English Literature and Sociology and B.A. (Hons) in Sociology. Kiri married the Rev Eru Potaka-Dewes and they have two children and three mokopuna. They spent fifteen years in Australia; during that time Kiri attended Murdoch University of Western Australia and graduated with a Diploma of Education and a Teachers’ Higher Certificate from the Education Department of Western Australia. On returning to New Zealand, Kiri and her family lived in Titirangi (Auckland) and have recently moved back ki te wa kainga at Okere Falls, Rotoiti. Kiri is an activist for Tino Rangātiratanga, and Iwi/Hapu Development Consultant for "Haparangi Consultants". She conducts training and workshops on decolonisation and Treaty issues. She states "I don’t see myself as a writer as such although I appreciate language skilfully crafted to make an impact. I’m more interested in the message." Her writing dates back to the late 1960s when she considered a career in journalism. At that time, her work was written under the name Kiri Haira.
- Correspondence from Kiri Potaka-Dewes, 9 and16 Mar. 1998.
- Email correspondence from Kiri Potaka-Dewes, 12 May 2004.
- "Māori Students: A Plea To Break The Tradition." Te Kaunihera Māori: New Zealand Māori Council Journal 1.6 (1967): 31, 33.
- Kiri contends that Māori students are being channelled into university Māori Studies and Anthropology courses without sufficient consideration being given to their future career opportunities. Kiri notes the need for more Māori teachers and other professions, and argues that Māori students need to be encouraged to select courses that specifically prepare them for chosen careers.
- "Views on the Office of Bishop of Aotearoa." Te Ao Hou 62 (1968): 18-19.
- Kiri writes that since the resignation of Bishop Panapa there has been widespread interest in his successor; she discusses possible candidates and necessary prerequisites for future Māori Bishops. Kiri observes that some people within Māori Anglican circles are seeking to restructure the selection process and responsibilities of the Māori bishop; these are markedly different to those of Pakeha Bishops.
- "Māori Schools Centennial." Te Ao Hou 62 (1968): 26-27, 43.
- A report of the Māori Schools Centennial held by the Rotorua and District Māori School Committees Association at Whakarewarewa Māori School, Rotorua in December 1967. Kiri notes that the centennial celebrations mark the end of an era in Māori education with the announcement by the Minister of Education that Māori schools would now be under the control of the School Board as opposed to the Education Department.
- "Waikato Visit to the East Coast." Te Ao Hou 62 (1968): 33-35.
- A description of Te Ata-i-rangi-kaahu’s visit to the East Coast in January 1968. Kiri also discusses Ngāti Porou response to the Kotahitanga and she describes the links between Ngāti Porou and Waikato through the marriage of Mahinarangi and Turongo and through the Te Puea-Ngata association.