Tuakana Mate was born at Waipiro Bay and was educated at Ngata Memorial College. From 1964 - 1965 she was a junior assistant teacher at Waiomatatini Primary School and from 1972 to 1973 trained at Auckland Teachers’ Training College. Nepe attended the University of Auckland and graduated with a B.A. with Distinction in 1976. In 1977 she was a probationary assistant teacher at Waikowhai Intermediate School, Sandringham, Auckland, and from 1978 to 1983 she was Head of Department for Māori Language at Queen Victoria School, Parnell, Auckland. In 1988 she began her M.A. studies in Education at the University of Auckland and graduated M.A. (Hons) in Education in 1991. Nepe was a Lecturer in Māori Language at Auckland College of Education from 1984 to 1989, and in 1987 she was appointed lecturer, Te Atakura, at the Auckland College of Education. From 1988 to 1989 she was a Japanese Sorobhan Trainee and studied under Ms Noriko Ikeda. Nepe employed these teaching methods in the Kura Kaupapa Māori mathematics education programme for KKM trainees. In 1989 she was an active voluntary member of the following Māori-based Community Organisations: Tutahi Tonu Marae Whanau at Auckland College of Education, Whare Wananga o Tamaki Whanau - University of Auckland, Te Awe Mapara ki Tamaki Whanau, Ngāti Porou Runanga -Taura Here ki Tamaki Makauau, Te Kotuitanga Kura Whanau - Avondale, Te Komiti o nga Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tamaki Makaurau - Epsom, Auckland. She was also a member of Te Ataarangi - Auckland, Awhireinga Te Kohanga Reo, Tamaki Makaurau Te Kohanga Whanui Tonu Trust in Ponsonby, Auckland, and the Koka Hauwai Whanau Health Programme. In 1989 Tuakana was a member of the 1989 Working Party Kura Kaupapa Māori (in Tomorrow’s Schools). She was a Kaiako (Māori Language Tutor) at Kohanga Reo Kai-arahi-i-te-Reo, Waitemata and Waipareira which involved twelve Kohanga Reo. In 1990 she was Senior Lecturer in the Kura Kaupapa Māori Teacher Training Course, and was Coordinator of Te Runanga o nga Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tamaki Makaurau Working Party. In 1991 she was full-time PRI Senior Lecturer to KKM Teacher Education and in 1992 was appointed Director - Te Kura Takiura o nga Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tamaki Makaurau. Nepe had professional expertise in Te Aho Matua Philosophy of Kura Kaupapa Māori Education and knowledge of the history and determinants of Māori Education. She was fluent in Te Reo Māori and focused on the development of Māori language.
- Correspondence from Papa Puni Nepe, 27 Aug. 1998.
- Puna Wairere: Essays by Māori. Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand Planning Council/Te Kaunihera Whakakaupapa mo Aotearoa, 1990.
- "Proposals for the Establishment of a Kura Kaupapa Māori Subcommittee." 1988.
- Co-authors Tuki Nepe, Elizabeth Rata, Linda Smith and Graham Smith.
- "Whaia Te Iti Kahurangi: Māori Women Reclaiming Autonomy." Puna Wairere: Essays by Māori. Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand Planning Council/Te Kaunihera Whakakaupapa mo Aotearoa, 1990. 8-12. Rpt. as "Whāia te Iti Kahurangi: Māori Women Reclaiming Autonomy." In Te Ao Mārama: Regaining Aotearoa: Māori Writers Speak Out. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 2: He Whakaatanga O Te Ao: The Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 304-309.
- Co-authors Vapi Kupenga, Rina Rata and Tuki Nepe.
- "Kura Kaupapa Māori Rangahau 1991." ‘Appendices.’ Kura Kaupapa Māori: Research and Development Project: Final Report. June 1992. Prepared by Tamati Reedy. [Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Education], 1992.
- Designed and supervised by Tuakana Mate Nepe.
- "The Conscientisation and Politicisation of Māori Women." Te Pua 1.1 (Sept. 1992): 15-19.
- In this paper ‘based on a series of interviews carried out for a larger study on Māori Women’ Nepe portrays the statistical evidence illustrating that in economic terms ‘Māori women have limited opportunity to achieve their potential… [and] in many cases they do not receive a fair share of wealth and resources which contribute to well-being, and many do not enjoy a reasonable living standard.’ She notes the socio-cultural forces which work against Māori women and undermine Māori reality. Drawing upon Paulo Freire’s concept of ‘critical consciousness’ or a process of ‘conscientisation’, Nepe constructs a ‘Conscientisation Process for Māori Women’ where they move from a place of being colonised to decolonisation, critical action, transformation and retention of Māori identity.
- Te Toi Huarewa Tipuna. MA Thesis, U of Auckland, 1991.
- Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 23.