Atihana Johns was born in Kaitaia and grew up in Whatuwhiwhi, Northland. He was educated at Rangiawhia Māori School, Whatuwhiwhi, and Te Aute College. Johns continued his studies at Auckland Teachers’ College, graduating with T.T.C. and a Diploma of Teaching. He graduated from Victoria University with a B.A. in 1972 and taught in a number of primary schools. In 1973 he began lecturing in Māori Studies at Hamilton Teachers’ College. In 1985 Johns graduated with a M.Ed. from Waikato University and currently lectures at the Auckland College of Education. Johns began writing while at secondary school. Initially his stories were based in rural Māori settings, but later he began exploring Māori urban experience in his writing. He writes short stories, non-fiction articles and poetry. Johns is also interested in script writing for television and film. His stories have appeared in Te Māori, Te Ao Hou, Short Stories by New Zealanders One, My New Zealand Senior, Into the World of Light, and Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing for Children. Volume IV: Te Ara o Te Hau: The Path of the Wind. In 1987 he received a writers’ award from the Department of Internal Affairs. Johns has attended three writing workshops including one at Hoani Waititi Marae in 1991 and another with the Writers Guild NZ.
- Correspondence from Johns on 2 Dec. 1992, and 14 June 1998.
- Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 213-216.
- Just Wondering. Atihana Johns. Drawings by Kura Rewiri-Thorsen. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986. 36.
- "Aunty Rangi and Little Kina." Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 2.2 (1971): 20-21. Rpt. in My New Zealand: Senior. Auckland, N.Z.: Longman Paul, 1973. 23-27.
- The young narrator recalls the time his Auntie Rangi returned to the home village pregnant and distraught after years of city life and how her sadness gradually dissipated to be replaced by joy.
- "He Pakete Kanara." Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 3.1 (197?): 11, 13. Rpt. in Short Stories by New Zealanders One. Comp. Phoebe Meikle. Auckland, N.Z.: Longman Paul, 1973. 107-111. Rpt. in The Seventies Connection. Ed. David Hill and Elizabeth Smither. Dunedin, N.Z.: McIndoe, 1980. 70-72. Rpt. in Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 213-216.
- This story focuses on the loneliness of old age and describes an aging rural Māori community which is gradually diminishing as the young people move to the cities. Mihi Rapata, an old woman whose children have grown up and left the valley, calls upon young Hemi to do errands for her. Years later Hemi discovers that Mihi was needing companionship more than the shopping items.
- "Hemi The Pokokohua." Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 216-219.
- Hemi, the quiet, bright child in the community, has been groomed for a great career by his mother, but he staggers under the weight of expectation and longs to slip back into the mediocrity of his other friends. After a drunken brawl on the beach, Hemi’s image drastically changes and he forgoes his scholarship and chance for further education. This story highlights the lonely road of Māori young people who succeed in the education system.
- "The Visitors." Just Wondering. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986. 7-10.
- The narrator of this story, Lettie, is suddenly presented with her past when her ex-boyfriend Hemi arrives at her marae. She briefly wonders how their lives might have been if she had not left him.
- "Just Wondering." Just Wondering. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986. 11-17.
- This story links in with the previous story entitled "The Visitors". In this story Hemi is the narrator: he articulates his difficulty in coming to terms with Lettie terminating her relationship with him and marrying Hone Haumoana instead.
- "The Fire." Just Wondering. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986. 19-21.
- Hemi takes measures into his own hands to combat the loss of family land and the encroaching urbanisation and commercialism in the district. Hemi sadly acknowledges that his children are growing up in an environment devoid of a past, marae and land.
- "The Red Light." Just Wondering. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986. 23-28.
- A story focussing on the complexities of an affair between married Hemi and his ‘glowing intrusion’, Hine.
- "Tame’s Party." Just Wondering. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986. 29-35.
- This story portrays various sub-groups in Māori society: the educated ‘intellectual Afros’ with their Pakeha girlfriends, the ‘Haka-Boogie Māoris’, the gay community, and Lettie and Hemi’s response to meeting members of each of these groups at Tame’s party.
- Just Wondering. Papatoetoe, N.Z.: Te Ropu Kahurangi, 1986.
- Five stories exploring various aspects of relationships - unrequited love, the pain of rejection, infidelity, deceit and insecurity, all set amidst a Māori society coping with tremendous change and transition.
- "Chosen One." Other Voices: New Writers and Writing in New Zealand. Ed. Bernard Gadd. Auckland, N.Z.: Brick Row/ Hallard, 1989. 93-99.
- This story is divided into four sections of a day. It describes the narrator’s visit to the beach where his former girlfriend, Ko, lives with her husband and two daughters. They meet on the beach. During the course of their day together, the narrator finally plucks up courage to ask Ko about her abrupt departure from their relationship and from the city ten years previously. She responds that she left because she was a puhi and had a duty to return to her people, but the closing sentence suggests another reason.
- "Number Two." Pacific Voices: An Anthology of Māori and Pacific Writing. Comp. Bernard Gadd. Auckland, N.Z.: Macmillan, 1989: 76-79. Rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing for Children. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 4: Te Ara o Te Hau: The Path of the Wind. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1994. 100-102.
- When the young narrator falls mysteriously ill after the death of his father, everyone has a prognosis concerning the illness and its possible cure; however, he remains sick. The boy is finally cured when Grannie, the matriarch of the family, insists that the young boy visit Tira the Tohunga.
- "Amalgamate or Bust." Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 2.2 (1971): 37-39.
- Johns presents a number of solutions to the ‘threatened extinction’ of Māori church schools due to economic hardship. He insists that these schools ‘have to do more than just survive. They have to ease the adjustment of Māori students into modern society’. Johns recommends moving schools like Te Aute and St Stephen’s away from their rural ‘artificial communities’ to urban areas where they could have access to the facilities of tertiary institutions and urban communities. He also suggests the amalgamation of church schools into one large co-educational boarding school and lists possible sources of financial aid.
- "Jack King: A Tribute." Te Māori 5.2 (1973): 44.
- Johns writes a personalised and anecdotal obituary to County Councillor and member of the New Zealand Māori Council, Jack King of Ngāti Kahu.
- "Land: Getting It Together." Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 3 (1980): 7-8.
- Co-authors Pehi Parata and Atihana Johns.
This article is composed of two separate sections by Parata and Johns respectively. In the first section Parata presents a report on a coastal zone management seminar that he ‘just happened’ to see advertised and decided to attend. While the seminar purported to ‘bring together representatives of bodies which have diverse interests in our New Zealand coastline’, no formal Māori representation was sought. Parata argues that Måori ‘must have an early say in the planning and formation of marine planning schemes.’ In the second section, Johns discusses the difficulties facing the Ngāti Kahu shareholders of Māori land on Whatuwhiwhi Peninsula to ‘get the land back into productivity, and above all retain it in [their] possession.’ He notes the importance of establishing trust amongst the diverse voices of the shareholders, discusses the formation of a 434A Trust ‘for the aggregation of shares’ and examines the pressures brought to bear on the shareholders as a result of various proposed tourist ventures in the area.
- Te Ao Hurihuri Opening, 28th Nov., 1987. Ed. Darryn Gray and A. M. Johns. [Hamilton, NZ: Hamilton Teachers’ College, 1987]
- This slim volume of four chapters celebrates the opening of Te Ao Hurihuri at the Waikato Teachers’ College in 1987. The authors write of the changing nature of the marae from its traditional origins to the contemporary urban marae. They also discuss marae in educational institutions. Johns and Gray describe the history of Te Ao Hurihuri which was first envisioned by George Marsden. They discuss marae kawa, procedure and rules, and give a detailed description of the various architectural features, carvings and other art work in the Whare Nui. Finally, they provide a brief account of the Whare Kai.
- "Letter to the Editor." Te Ao Hou 40 (1962): 20.
- Johns responds to an article entitled "Is This Man Right?" in Te Ao Hou 39 (1962) and asserts that the problems facing Māori youth are far more complex than suggested by the author of the article.
- "Māori Culture and Tourists." Te Ao Hou 46 (1964): 2.
- Johns challenges the commercialisation of Māori culture in the interest of attracting tourism and objects to Māori in Rotorua being treated like a ‘freak phenomenon’.
- Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 1.2 (Issue [1969?]: 31,33.
- Johns discusses Norman Perry’s article in the Autumn issue of Te Kaunihera Māori which lent support to the upcoming All Black Tour of South Africa in 1970. Johns challenges Perry’s evidence and criticises the Māori Council’s ‘failure to assess non-white South African opinion’ concerning the tour.
- "South Africa - A Credibility Gap?" Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 1.4 (1970): 23-24.
- A response to Norman Perry’s reply in Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 1.3 (1969/70?), to Johns’ letter in Te Māori 1.2.
- "Those Māori Seats." Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 3 (1980): 3.
- Johns takes issue with a number of statements made by Tony Garnier in his article "Time For Change?" in Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 1 (1979): 13-14. Garnier’s article examines the role of the Māori political seats. Johns discusses the implications of separate Māori representation and presents four conditions that would have to be met before he could agree to the abolition of the Māori seats.
- "Self Concept and School Achievement: Māori, Pakeha and Pacific Island Ethnic Differences in this Relationship." Diss. U of Waikato, 1985.
- Presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at the University of Waikato.
- Davey, Mike. Te Karanga: Canterbury Māori Studies’ Association 2.1 (1986): 39.