Rora Paki-Titi

Ngāi Tahu, Waiora Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Maniapoto

1912 - 2005

Rora Paki-Titi was born at Ridgelands near Feilding, the daughter of Sydney Hynes and Makareta Pepene Pohārama. She was educated at a small country school near Makino where she was the only Māori girl. She taught herself Māori and took music lessons for five years. Rora wanted to become a teacher but her father, a well-educated man from Dublin, dissuaded her because he considered it degrading for his daughters to obtain employment. Instead of teaching, Rora milked cows, made homemade butter, sold mushrooms and continued music lessons. Her mother was from South Westland and raised her children with a strong Biblical background. Rora married Mahuri Paki-Titi in 1935 and had ten children. Rora and Mahuri farmed a small holding among the hills of Oparure near Te Kuiti and Rora helped establish a kindergarten in Oparure.

Rora began writing as a young girl: one of her half-sisters urged her to pursue writing because she wrote such beautiful letters. In 1920 she wrote for the New Zealand Exporter using a number of pseudonyms including “Abraham”. She signed some of her short stories “Rora” because she maintained “there are thousands of Paki’s”. Rora has written many stories and poetry that have been published in the Wharekura series, Te Ao Hou, and Contemporary Māori Writing. Her work has also been published in Sweden and by the New Zealand Literary Society of Japan. In 1998 her book, Rangimarie: Recollections of Her Life published by Huia Publishers was launched at Oparure Marae. At the age of 90, Rora sang one of her own waiata onto the Oparure Kura Fund Raising CD.

Rora was a foundation member of the Māori Women’s Welfare League and researched the effects of Women’s Suffrage on Māori women. For two years Rora had a weekly Māori news slot for the Māori Women’s Welfare League on Radio Waitomo entitled “Here Comes Rora”. In 1991 she was awarded the MBE for services to her community.

Biographical sources

  • Phone call and correspondence from Rora Paki-Titi, 25 and 30 March 1998.
  • Interview with Rora Paki-Titi at Nga Puna Waihanga Hui, Omaka Marae, 1992. Correspondence with Rora Evans 19 July 2005.
  • Correspondence from Ngahau Cunningham, 27 July and 23 December 2004.
  • Paki-Titi, Rora. Rangimarie. Recollections of Her Life. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia Publishers, 1998.
  • "Notes on Contributors." Contemporary Māori Writing. Ed. Margaret Orbell. Wellington, N.Z.: Reed, 1970. 147-150.
  • New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa. Ed. Alister Taylor. Vol. 1. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa, 1992: 222.


  • "Ka Pu Te Ruha Ka Hao Te Rangatahi." Te Ao Hou 15 (1956): 6-9. Rpt. in Contemporary Māori Writing. Ed. Margaret Orbell. Wellington, N.Z.: Reed, 1970. 9-13.
  • Paki writes of the idyllic years of her childhood when she lived in the extended family of her grandparents and grew up immersed in the richness of marae life. She is saddened by the gradual passing away of the elders and is keenly aware of the vacuum they leave.
  • "Reminiscences." Te Ao Hou 29 (1959): 8-10.
  • The author remembers the joys and trials of pregnancy and childbirth and recounts some of the humorous episodes surrounding her own children.
  • "By Your Backyard." Te Ao Hou 32 (1960): 59.
  • Paki describes the simple home she grew up in with its earth floor kitchen, windowless storeroom where her mother kept all kinds of culinary treasures, and wonderful gardens surrounding the house.
  • Fiction

  • "A Home is Made." Te Ao Hou 18 (1957): 12-15.
  • This story, placed third in Te Ao Hou’s second Literary Competition, gives an insight into an arranged marriage where the young woman gradually moves from a sense of entrapment and powerlessness to a passive acceptance of what had been decided by the elders.
  • "Roll Back the Years." Te Ao Hou 43 (1963): 9-10. Rpt. in Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and introd. Margaret Orbell. Wellington, N.Z.: Reed, 1970. 14-16.
  • The death of a relative takes the narrator back to her childhood home and she rediscovers the special places of her childhood.
  • "Barnen Fran Oparure." Mellan Tva Varldar: Prosaantologi Med Māori Forfattare. Ed. Bengt Dagrin. [Sweden]: Forfattares Bokmaskin, 1982. 122-123.
  • In this collection of writings by Māori authors Paki submitted to Dagrin a number of previously unpublished stories. The three other works in the Swedish collection are also entitled in Swedish
  • "Nagot Om Byns Historieberattare." Mellan Tva Varldar: Prosaantologi Med Māori Forfattare. Ed. Bengt Dagrin. [Sweden]: Forfattares Bokmaskin, 1982. 124.
  • "Smafolket." Mellan Tva Varldar: Prosaantologi Med Māori Forfattare. Ed. Bengt Dagrin. [Sweden]: Forfattares Bokmaskin, 1982. 125-126.
  • "Grottmonstret." Mellan Tva Varldar: Prosaantologi Med Māori Forfattare. Ed. Bengt Dagrin. [Sweden]: Forfattares Bokmaskin, 1982. 127-129.
  • Non-fiction

  • "Nga Mahi o Nga Tupuna: The Work of Our Forefathers." Te Ao Hou 6 (1953): 32-34.
  • Paki describes a revival in Māori arts in Oparure. After a new teacher arrived at the local school and observed amongst his pupils a lack of knowledge in Māori culture, he embarked on a programme of recruiting people to come and teach haka, the poi, the care and cutting of flax and other Māori arts. Paki writes that the programme developed so successfully that the school children were invited to perform during the Queen’s visit and the whole community rallied to prepare the piupiu, tipare and tateka for the children.
  • "Kindergarten for Oparure." Te Ao Hou 8 (1954): 17-18.
  • An account of the founding of Oparure Kindergarten in the early 1950s after the Senior Inspector of Māori Schools, Mr W. Parsonage, informed the 1952 Māori Women’s Welfare League Conference that there were no Māori kindergartens on record. Paki writes that the local branch of the League warmed to the idea of forming a kindergarten in their area and had the satisfaction of getting it successfully established.
  • "Going to the Conference." Te Ao Hou 10 (1955): 55-57.
  • A lively description of a conference delegate preparing to go to a Māori Women’s Welfare League national conference.
  • "Te Utu mō Te Hara." Te Ao Hou 16 (1956): 22.
  • "Centennial Celebration of the King Movement: 1858-1958." Rora. Te Ao Hou 23 (1958): 6-8.
  • A description of the celebrations at Ngaruawahia commemorating one hundred years since the founding of the King movement and a brief account of Potatau’s investiture as Māori King on May 2, 1858.
  • "League Does Exciting Job With Teenagers." Te Ao Hou 29 (1959): 62-64.
  • In 1959 the Maniapoto District Council of the Māori Women’s Welfare League won the Te Puea Trophy for the best League report. The Oparure Branch’s section of this prize-winning report is reproduced in this article and Paki, as Branch secretary, gives a vivid account of the Branch’s lively programme of activities and strong youth emphasis.
  • Rangimarie: Recollections of Her Life. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 1998.
  • A biography of Māori weaver Rangimarie Hetet, 1892-1995.
  • Performing Arts

  • "Rona and the Moon." Unpublished play, 1969.
  • An unpublished play of seven minutes duration performed in 1969 – the year Commander Neil Armstrong and LM pilot Edwin E. Aldrin walked on the moon (20 July 1969).
  • Traditional

  • "Nga Tamariki." Nga Tamariki. Wellington, N.Z.: A. R. Shearer, 1972. 3-6.
  • "To Matou Tupuna." Nga Tamariki. Wellington, N.Z.: A. R. Shearer, 1972. 7-15.
  • "A Tatou Tamariki." Nga Tamariki. Wellington, N.Z.: A. R. Shearer, 1972. 16-22.


  • "Bereavements." Waitomo News July 5, 2005. No further details.