Joseph Pere was born in Gisborne, the son of Ngarangi Tautuhi Maraki and Te Kani Pere. From 1950-1954 he attended St Peter’s Māori Boys College in Auckland where he became School Dux in 1954. He continued his studies at Wellington Teachers’ College, graduating with a Trained Teacher’s Certificate in 1958. From 1973-79 he was Senior Teacher at Melville Intermediate School in Hamilton and from 1977-78 was an Itinerant Teacher of Māori Language. Pere completed further study at Waikato University, graduating with a Diploma in Teaching, Diploma in Education, Bachelor of Education in 1979, M.A. (Hons) in 1982 and M.Phil in 1985. From 1980-84 he was Deputy Principal of Melville Intermediate School and from 1985-90 was Principal at Manutuke Primary School, Gisborne. Pere was awarded a Fellowship in Māori History by the Department of Internal Affairs in 1990 and focused on researching the life and traditions of East Coast tupuna Ruapani. From 1991-1992 he attended Access Training courses in small business management and computer technology at Comtec Academy in Gisborne. From 1992-1993 he was a historical researcher and part-time writer at Wi Pere Trust.
In his work as an educationalist, Pere has tutored Massey University papers in Education and Social Policy, and the Treaty of Waitangi at Tairawhiti Polytech from 1993-1996. He has acted as a distance tutor for extramural Massey students, and has worked as a part-time administrator for Ao Ako Global Learning (NZ) Ltd.
Since 1997 he has been involved with Treaty of Waitangi Land Claims, representing “Wi Pere Whanau” as the mandated leader for Land Claims in the Turanganui/Poverty Bay District.
Pere is a member of various boards and councils and has chaired Te Whanau a Kai Nga Potiki Kokiri (1987-1992), the Rongopai Marae (1986-1992), and the Kokako School Board of Trustees in 1995 and 1998. He is Vice-President of the Takitimu NZ Māori Council, and has been a member of the Tairawhiti Māori District Council (1989-1992) and the School of Law Committee at the University of Waikato (1990 –1992).
A keen tennis player, Pere organised three National Māori Lawn Tennis Championships in Hamilton and Gisborne. He is a Justice of the Peace and has been an active member of Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa up until 1992. He is also involved with sheep and cattle farming at Waipiro Bay.
Pere was interviewed on TV3’s documentary “Last of the ANZACS” in which he spoke about his grandfather, Tautuhi Maraki who was killed at Chunik Bair in August 1915.
- Correspondence from Dr. Joe Pere, 1 September 1989, 26 August 2004, 11 May and 12 July 2005.
- New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa 1998 Edition. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Publications, 1988. 589.
- "Te Mana o Riria (The Influence of Riria)." Tu Tangata 14 (Oct./Nov. 1983): 53-55.
- This is a portion of a yet unpublished book by Pere on Māori M.P. Wi Pere (1837-1915). Pere describes Wi Pere’s selection as a young man to be taught Māori history and genealogy in the tribal wananga, the strong influence of his mother, Riria Mauaranui, his election to Parliament in 1884 and his contribution to Māori while in Parliament.
- "Wi Pere (1837-1915): A Traditional Leader and Parliamentarian." Biography in New Zealand. Ed. J. Phillips. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin New Zealand Limited in association with the Port Nicholson Press, 1985. 56-61.
- Pere writes that this is ‘a synopsis of Wi Pere as a significant leader during 1860’s, 1870’s, and 1880; during New Zealand’s turbulent Colonial History.’
- "Hitori Māori." The Future of the Past: Themes in New Zealand History. Ed. Colin Davis and Peter Lineham. [Palmerston North, N.Z.]: Dept. of History, Massey U, 1991. 29-48.
- Pere writes that this paper ‘attempts to clarify much of the confusion created by the nineteenth century non-Māori writers of New Zealand colonial history.’ Pere notes that non-Māori writers of last century attached little importance to the tribal identity of the Māori and he suspects that the term Māoritanga was used to blur the tribal differences. Pere explores issues of tribalism, examines the term Māori, and aspects of Māori history that conflict with a 19th century colonial history. Pere surmises ‘that Māori history is a nineteenth century concept instituted by ethnocentric Europeans to be used as a means of convenience and expediency totally ignoring the importance of tribal ancestry, whakapapa (genealogy) history, karakia, waiata, song poetry and other cultural institutions inclusive of vested authority as of right.’ Pere presents his own tribal identity within Te Aitanga A Mahaki, relates stories of his ancestors and briefly examines who has the mandate to do tribal research.
- "Oral tradition & tribal history." Māori and oral history : a collection. Ed. Rachael Selby and Alison J. Laurie. Māori and oral history : a collection. Wellington,N.Z : NOHANZ, 2005.
- Titi Momona. Hamilton, N.Z.: Centre for Māori Studies and Research, Waikato U, 1979.
- Pere writes that Titi Momana was ‘written as a simple reader for children who were learning Māori as a second language.’
- "Oral Tradition and Tribal History." Interview with Brigid Pike. Oral History in New Zealand 3 (1990-1991): 1-4.
- In this interview, which was recorded at the Historical Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, N.Z., on 23 November 1990, Pere speaks of the oral transmission of tribal history and describes his research on Ruapani, the Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa eponymous ancestor, during his year as 1990 Māori Fellow at the Historical Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs.
- The Leadership Role of the Hon. Wi Pere. M.Phil thesis, U of Waikato, 1984.
- Wi Pere: Traditional Leader and Parliamentarian. Intermediate Doctorate. U of Waikato, 1984.
- 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. 24.