Te Whakaotinga Poa was born at Waipiro Bay and was educated at primary schools in Te Araroa, Horoera, Whakaangiangi, Rangitukia, Tikitiki, Cape Runaway, and at Tikitiki District High School. He continued his studies at Wellington Teachers’ College and graduated with a trained teacher’s certificate in 1960. In 1993, Poa completed the Bilingual Education Course at the University of Waikato. He has held many positions in the teaching profession including teacher, assistant, Deputy Principal, Principal, Resource Teacher of Māori, Itinerant teacher of Māori, Adviser—Māori, and District Adviser—Māori. He has also worked as a scrubcutter, driver, baker’s assistant, shedhand, wharfie, farm labourer, forecourt attendant, cement worker, orderly, hay employee, cook and tour guide. He writes non-fiction work and has written stories for children which are unpublished. He has attended writing workshops run by the Ministry of Education. He is currently Adviser—Māori with the University of Waikato.
- Correspondence from Poa, 4 Feb. and 6 Apr. 1998.
- Phone call with Poa 19 May, and 18 Aug. 1998.
- "The Taha Māori Resource Room at Centennial Park School." Getting it Right: Aspects of Ethnicity and Equality in New Zealand Education. Ed. Walter Hirsh and Raymond Scott. Auckland, N.Z.: Office of the Race Relations Conciliator, 1988. 117-120.
- Poa writes about the Māori Resource Room at Centennial Park School, Te Kuiti, which he established in 1976. He outlines the ways teachers can utilise the Resource Room and writes of the appointment of a Kaiako Mo te Reo in Te Kuiti in 1987 to promote the use of Māori, to improve fluency of the language and to support the Māori programmes which were moving toward bilingual and immersion programmes.