Heretaunga Baker was born at Rakaia and grew up in Raukokore, Omaramutu and Ōpōtiki. He was educated at Te Aute College and the University of Canterbury. He was the first Māori to gain a university bursary to study journalism. After active service in the Second World War he returned to New Zealand and worked for the Grey River Argus in Greymouth and the Star Sun in Christchurch. before beginning to farm at Ōpōtiki. He was secretary of Te Waipounamu District Māori Council from 1965-1970, was first chair of the Canterbury Museum of Science and Industry, and was also the District Council observer on the Māori Education Foundation of the University of Canterbury.
- Phone conversation with Dawn Kincaid, 12 Dec, 1997.
- Behind the Tattooed Face. Whatamongo Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, N.Z.: Cape Catley, 1975.
- Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 23.
- Behind the Tattooed Face. Whatamongo Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, N.Z.: Cape Catley, 1975. Rpt. in1990. An extract rpt. as "Framlingar I eget Land." Mellan Tva Varldar: Prosaantologi Med Māori Forfattare. Ed. Bengt Dagrin. [Sweden]: Forfattares Bokmaskin, 1982. 13-25.
- In this historical novel set in the eighteenth century Baker writes of Māori tribal life, warfare and tribal inter-relationships in the Bay of Plenty. Baker states in his Author’s Note that "[t]his novel is true to the many stories and legends of [his] people, the Whakatōhea" and that "[a]s a boy [he] often had the privilege of listening to these stories in [his] tribal meeting house, Tutamure, when [he] was growing up in ōmarumutu". This is the first historical novel by a Māori writer.
- "Punahamoa: A Story of the High Priest." Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 15-18.
- In this dramatic story of intertribal warfare, Punahamoa, the High Priest, declares that the tribal war god, Tama I Waho, demands the death of all the Ngaitai people in return for his support of the warriors, Hoko Whitu A Tu. In reality, Punahamoa is acting out of vengeance against the Ngaitai because of their previous treachery. The editors of Into the World of Light write that this story "describes one of the last great tribal battles fought prior to the advent of guns; it took place about the time Captain Cook reached New Zealand".
- "A Prophecy Fulfilled (Extract)." Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing. Ed. Witi Ihimaera and D. S. Long. Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann, 1982. 19-23.
- This extract from Behind the Tattooed Face, describes the ritual performed by the old priest Tipu Tapeka in which he prophecies that Raumoko and Rangipai will give birth to a son and daughter. The old man also foretells the coming of the European settlers. The people of Raumoko and Rangipai’s village sight Captain Cook’s Endeavour approaching the shore in 1769 and, in the resulting skirmish between the crew of the Endeavour and the local Māori, chief Haukino Te Onewa is shot dead and Rangipai and Raumoko assume leadership of their combined tribes.
- The Strongest God. Whatamongo Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, N.Z.: Cape Catley, 1990. Extract rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 1: Te Whakahuatanga O Te Ao: Reflections of Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. 39-60.
- Witi Ihimaera writes that when Baker died he "left a four million-word manuscript, originally called Cry for the People, which was eventually edited and published as The Strongest God". This second novel in Baker’s proposed series of historical novels about the Whakatōhea people of the Bay of Plenty was published posthumously. It is set in the 1860s and focuses on the events leading up to the martyrdom of missionary Carl Volkner and the subsequent hanging of Mokomoko. Accompanying the novel is a paper by Nehe Dewes entitled "The Exhumation and Re-Burial of the Remains of Mokomoko and Other Men", which describes briefly the trial and hanging of Mokomoko and others in 1866 and an exhumation in May 1989 at Mt Eden Prison. The book concludes with an Appendix by Baker entitled "The Significance of Rangioawhia" which is composed of various accounts of the massacre of Māori by British troops at Rangioawhia in February 1864.
- "The Kumara Returns." Te Ao Hou 7 (1954): 63-64.
- Baker asserts that prior to European settlement, the kumara was the "staple means of diet" for the Māori, but that after European settlement the kumara faded in importance. Baker discusses the best kumara-growing districts in the country and concludes by predicting that the kumara industry will increase its markets.
- Dudding, Robin. "Plumb In The Sun." Listener 10 Dec. 1990: 112-113.
- Hughes, Shaun F. D. "Pakeha and Māori Behind The Tattooed Face: The Emergence of a Polynesian Voice in New Zealand Fiction." MFS 27.1 (1981): 13-29.
- Dagrin, Bengt. Mellan Tva Varldar: Prosaantologi Med Māori Forfattare. [Sweden]: Forfattares Bokmaskin, 1982. 17-18.
Behind the Tattooed Face
- Behind the Tattooed Face. King, Michael. New Zealand Bookworld 16 (1975): 31-32.
- Behind the Tattooed Face. "Māori Writes With Impact Of Taiaha." Marlborough Express 7 Mar. 1975.
- Behind the Tattooed Face. Otago Daily Times 23 Jun. 1990: 21.
- Behind the Tattooed Face. Dominion Sunday Times 26 Aug. 1990: 13.
- Behind the Tattooed Face. Press 10 Nov. 1990: 27.
The Strongest God
- The Strongest God. Absalom, Irene. "When Cultures And Religions Clashed." Star Sunday 24 Feb. 1991: 5.