Arapata Hakawai was born in Hastings and educated at Raukawa Primary School, Bridge Pa Primary, Hastings Intermediate, Te Aute College and New Zealand Correspondence School. At Victoria University he studied Anthropology, Māori and History and graduated with B.A. (Hons) in 1987. Hakiwai taught for a year part-time and began work as a contract worker with the National Museum in 1988. In 1991 he became Pou Kaitiaki i nga Taonga Māori/ Curator of the Māori Collections. He writes non-fiction articles and has written a story in the Te Wharekura series.
- Phone interview with Arapata Hakiwai 11 Aug., 1992.
- "Museums as Guardians of our Nation’s Treasures!" AGMANZ Journal 19.2 (1988): 37-39. In Māori and English.
- Hakiwai writes that the "crux of this paper is to inform the reader of the vital importance, the need, the urgency, the prerequisite to any good museum to move with the wairua (spirit) that our artworks deserve." Hakiwai argues for the careful conservation of the nation’s taonga and states that this should be of primary importance to museums.
- "Once Again the Light of Day? Museums and Māori Culture in New Zealand." Museum 1 (1990): 35-38.
- In this paper on the relationship between New Zealand museums and Māori taonga, Hakiwai writes of the impact of the Te Māori exhibition. He examines the origins of museums in New Zealand and notes that many Māori artefacts were stolen from Māori burial sites. Collections were established because the Māori were perceived to be a dying race. Hakiwai looks at the role of modern museums in terms of the acquisition and conservation of Māori taonga and discusses how societal monoculturalism influences museum practice. He outlines the Māori response to their taonga in museums, and argues for bilingual labels and displays that demonstrate a living vital culture rather than a static remote one. Hakiwai concludes that Māori "want control over their heritage and to explain, define and communicate their world-view to themselves and the world around them."
- "Taonga Māori Exhibition Returns." Iwi Express 12 (1990): n.pag.
- "Ruatepupuke: A Māori Meeting House." In "Field Museum: Exploring the Earth and Its People." Chicago, Illinois: Field Museum, 1994.
- "Ruatepupuke: Working Together, Understanding One Another." Selected Conference Papers 1992-1994 New Zealand Museums Journal 25.1 (1995): 42-44.
- In this address given at the 1994 MAANZ-MEANZ Conference, Hakiwai discusses issues of ownership, repatriation, te tino rangātiratanga raised in the restoration of the carved meeting house Ruatepupuke which is housed in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, USA.
- The Search for Legitimacy: Museums in New Zealand - A Māori Viewpoint.
- This paper was presented at the 1992 International Conference on Anthropology and the Museum, Ethnological Society of China, Taiwan Museum, Taipei, Taiwan ROC.