Roka Paora was born in Raukōkore and was educated at Raukōkore Primary School, Te Kaha Primary School, and Hukarere Māori Girls’ College from Roka went on to train as a teacher at Auckland Teachers’ Training College from In 1946 she began teaching as a probationary assistant at Te Kaha Primary School. She married Tini Paora, a school colleague from Te Kaha Primary, and from 1946-1960 was a primary school teacher at Te Kaha. In 1960 Roka began to teach te reo in the Secondary Department of Te Kaha District High School and from 1970-1980 was First Assistant at Te Whanau-a-Apanui Area School. In 1980 she became an itinerant teacher of Māori in the Apanui District from Maraenui to Potaka and held this position until 1986.
Roka has subsequently lectured in te reo at the Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi at Te Kaha, an outpost from the Whare Wānanga in Whakatane. She was also a lecturer in Māori Studies for the Auckland College of Education Outpost in Te Whanau-a-Apanui for the Diploma in Primary Teaching.
Roka has been involved with various translation projects: in 1991 she was translator of TVNZ’s Waka Huia programmes; from 1999-2001 she completed a contract with Otago University to translate Māori assessments for Kura; and she worked part time for Hakoni Ltd translating and editing English-Māori text for NZQA and the Ministry of Education. She has also translated Māori Land Court Records pertaining to the history and whakapapa of Te Whanau-a-Apanui.
Roka has written many articles, short stories and publications with a focus on teaching te reo Māori. When Tūroa Royal wanted to start a programme for Māori language learning for intermediate and secondary school students, Roka wrote the three volume Learn Māori with Parehau and Sharon. The editor of School Publications, Tilly Reedy, asked Roka to write a series of Māori readers for secondary school students; this resulted in the Te Tautoko series. Roka has also contributed to the Te Wharekura series and to John C Moorfield’s Te Whanake series. In 1971 she was a member of the Māori Language Advisory Board for Māori Publications. Alongside Dr. P. T. Jones, Dr. Pat Hohepa, Koro Dewes, Beth Ranapia and others, she edited the seventh (revised) edition of the Williams Dictionary. From 1987-1994, Roka was an editor for the Ngata Dictionary, working alongside the late Hori Ngata and his son Whai Ngata. From 2000-2001 she was contracted to the University of Waikato to write Māori stories, edit assessments and analyse Māori language assessments of Kura Kaupapa years 5 and 8.
Roka has engaged in many research projects: in 1992 she researched the C Company for the Māori Battalion booklet for Moana Ngarimu’s 50th Anniversary (held in 1993); she was researcher and informant for Nga Poutomanawa o te Hahi Mihinare ki te Rohe o Te Kaha, compiled and edited by Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe in 1998; and she has been a researcher and informant for many other historical publications.
Roka is a long term member of Māori Women’s Welfare League Te Kaha Branch and a member of the Te Kaha Parish Vestry for many years. She was awarded a Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa Distinguished Service Medal mo te Hahi Mihinare. She is a Kaumatua advisor for various trusts and has been called on to judge Kapa Haka Regionals and Polynesian Festival competitions. She was a winner of the NZBC Original Māori Composition in 1969, has held a Māori Interpreter’s Licence since 1965, and was awarded the QSM in 1984.
- Phone conversation and correspondence with Roka Paora, 11 August 1998 and 12 August 2004.
- "Te Hi Moke." Nā Clifford Whiting ngā pikitia. [Illus. Clifford Whiting].Te Wharekura 18. Wellington, N.Z.: School Publication Branch, [1969/1970?]. 1-23.
- "He Waiata mo Kāpene Kuki." Te Wharekura 19. Wellington, N.Z.: School Publication Branch, 1971. 2-3.
- "He Kōrero mo te Mahi Wera I Te Whanau-a-Apanui. Ngā Kōrero II. Pāra Kau Tākaro. Auckland, N.Z.: Longman Paul, 1992. Rpt. in Te Whaneke, Te Māhuri. John C. Moorfield. No details.
- "Whakairo Kākahu Māori: Hana Te Hemara." Na Roka Paora i whakamāori. [Trans. Roka Paora]. Ngā kōrero a Hana ki a Claudette Hauiti. [Stories told to Claudette Hauiti by Hana Te Hemara. Te Tautoko 18. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, Ministry of Education, 1993. 2-5.
- "Te Whanaketanga I Mangahanea – Tewhakamoritanga O Nga Tuhi Pakeha A Heni Te Kira Hei: Growing Up In Mangahanea." Te Wharekura 38 Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, Ministry of Education, Te Pou Taki Kōrero, 1993. 10-14.
- "Rā Kauhoe." Na Roka Paora I whakamāori. [Trans. Roka Paora]. "Swimming Day." June Walker. School Journal 1.3 (1994): 2-7.
- "Te Tohenga." Na Roka Paora I whakamāori. [Trans. Roka Paora]. "The God." Adrienne Jansen. Nā. Ros Des Tombe ngā pikita. [Illus. Rose Des Tombe]. School Journal 2.2 (1994): 19-23.
- "Te Kawa o Te Whānau ā Apanui - Pāeke." Nā Gus Hunter ngā pikitia. [Illus. Gus Hunter]. Te Wharekura 46. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, 1995. 10-15.
- "Etahi Kaitiaki O Te Rohe O Te Whānau-ā-Apanui." Na David Burke ngā pikitia. [Illus. David Burke]. Te Wharekura 48. Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Education by Learning Media, 1995. 14-17.
- "Tuakana-Teina." Nā Henry Campbell ngā pikitia. [Illus. Henry Campbell].Te Tautoko 31. Te Whanganui-ā-Tara [Wellington], N.Z.: Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga e Te Pou Taki Kōrero Whaiti, 1997. 25-27.
- Paora’s thoughts on tuakana-teina.
- Learn Māori with Parehau and Sharon. Book 1. Illus. Cathie Penetio. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1971.
- Māori language study book for intermediate students introducing them into Form Three and covering simple greetings and tikanga.
- Learn Māori with Parehau and Sharon. Book 2. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcoulls, 1973.
- Kia Ora: A First Book of Māori Studies. Auckland, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1973.
- Roka was asked to write this Māori language study book for the Form One and Form Two age group by Whitcoulls. Covers waka, tikanga, and food.
- Te Wharekura Comprehension Booklet 1-10. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd, 1973.
- Questions for the Te Whare Kura Series numbers 1-10.
- Learn Māori with Parehau and Sharon. Book 2. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcoulls, 1973.
- Learn Māori with Parehau and Sharon. Book 3. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcoulls, 1976.
- Te Tautoko 5: Ko Huhana. Nā John Miller ngā whakaahua. [Illus. John Miller]. Wellington, N.Z.: School Publications Branch, Dept. of Education, 1975.
- A story about a girl going to a country high school.
- Te Tautoko 8: He Kai Kei Aku Ringa: Ki Ngā Taitamariki O Te Motu E Ako Nei I Ngā Mahi-ā-Ringa. Nā Glen Busch ngā whakaahua. [Illus. Glen Busch]. Wellington, N.Z.: School Publications Branch, Dept. of Education, 1975.
- Written in the form of a play.
- Foreword. Te Mahi Kete: Māori Flaxcraft for beginners. M. Pendergrast. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1975. Rpt. 2000. No further details.
- Te Tautoko 7: Ko Riria. Nā John Miller ngā whakaahua. [Illus. John Miller]. Wellington, N.Z.: School Publications Branch, Dept. of Education, 1976.
- A story about a girl going to a city high school.
- Anei Au. Te kaimahi pikitia J. S. Pirihi. [Illus. J. S. Pirihi]. Kopeopeo, Whakatane, N.Z.: Māori Publications Unit, Regional Services Division, School of Education, U of Waikato, 1981. Rpt. in 1992.
- A booklet about different parts of the body.
- Te Pōaka Puihi. Ko ngā whakaahua nā Manihera Waititi. [Illus. Manihera Waititi]. Kopeopeo, Whakatāne, N.Z.: Māori Publications Unit, Regional Services Division, School of Education, U of Waikato, 1983. Rpt. in 1987, 1992.
- Roka wrote a text for the illustrations of Manihera Waititi. Māori language text on hunting with a vocabulary and ‘Note for teachers’. In the Note for Teachers, it states that this story ‘is written at a level which could be used to reinforce the work of high school pupils or learners who have reached the stage of Te Rangatahi Book Two.
- Ko te Whānau Heihei. Ko ngā pikitia nā Jessica Wallace. [Illus. Jessica Wallace]. Whanganui-a-tara [Wellington], N.Z.: Te Rōpu Mahipukapukakura, Te Tari Mātauranga, 1987.
- A story about rearing chickens. This Māori language text for children in the He Purapura series is accompanied by ngā kupu/word list.
- Ko te Whānau Heihei. Teachers’ Edition. Ko ngā pikitia nā Jessica Wallace. [Illus. Jessica Wallace]. Whanganui-a-Tara [Wellington], N.Z.: Te Ropu Mahipukapukakura, Te Tari Matauranga, 1987.
- Whakarongo! Titiro! Whakaaro! Ngā pikitia John Hanlen. [Illus. John Hanlen]. Kopeopeo, Whakatane, N.Z.: Māori Publications, 1989.
- Tētahi Kawa O Te Marae. Ngā pikitia Colin Deed. [Illus. Colin Deed]. Kopeopeo, Whakatane, N.Z.: Māori Publications Unit, Regional Services Division, School of Education, U of Waikato, 1991.
- Roka Paora writes about the kawa of the Whanau-a-Apanui marae. Written in Māori with English translation provided.
- Rā Kauhoe. Nā June Walker [By June Walker]. Nā Roka Paora i whakamāori [Trans. Roka Paora]. Nā Elspeth Williamson ngā pikitia. [Illus. Espeth Williamson]. Nga Kōrero 11 Purākau Tākaro. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, 1994. 2-7.
- Te Tohenga. Nā Adrienne Jansen. [By Adrienne Janse]. Nā Roka Paora i whakamāori [Trans. Roka Paora]. Nā Rob Des Tombe nā pikitia [Illus. Rob Des Tombe]. Nga Kōrero 11 Purākau Tākaro. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, 1994. 19-25.
- Nga Kōrero Tawhito o Te Whare Kura 2. He Kōrero mo Tamahae. Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Education by Learning Media, 1996.
- H˚naki. Nā Jan Trafford ngā kōrero [By Jan Trafford]. Nā Ian Trafford ngā whakaahua [Illus. Ian Trafford]. Nā Roka Paora i whakamāori [Trans. Roka Paora]. Te Whanganui-ā-Tara [Wellington], Aotearoa [N.Z.]: Te Pou Taki Kōrero, c2000.
- Whakahekeheke hukarere. Nā Jan Trafford ngā kōrero [ By Jan Trafford]. Nā Ian Trafford ngā whakaahua [Illus. Ian Trafford]. Nā Roka Paora i whakamāori [Trans. Roka Paora]. Te Whanganui-ā-Tara [Wellington], Aotearoa, N.Z.: Te Pou Taki Kōrero, 2000.
- He T˚puna Whakahirahira. Written in Māori by Parehau Richards. Ed. Roka Paora. Hamilton: Print House, 2003.
- Descriptions and genealogies of the 13 poupou at te Kura-ā-Rohe o Te Whānau-ā-Apanui i Te Kaha. The 13 poupou are: Haraawaka, Hikarukutai, Tutawake, Rongomaihuatahi, Matekitātahi, Hinetekahu, Te Ehutu, Kaiaio, Kahurautao, Maruhaeremuri, Pararaki, Kauaetangohia and Ngunguruoterangi.
- Benton, Richard A. Materials for Teaching and Learning the Māori Language: A Bibliography of Published Materials for Teaching Māori to Speakers of Other Languages Compiled and Annotated by Richard A. Benton. Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Māori Unit, 1979. 13.
- 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.
- Taylor, C. R. H. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Oxford UP, 1972. Addenda. 130.