Hinetara Potaka

Te Arawa, Mataatua

1924 -

Hinetara Potaka was born in Te Puke and educated at Queen Victoria College, Auckland. In 1945 she married and had two sons. She was founder of the Maketu Playcentre in 1965 and became president of Zone D of the Rotorua Playcentre Association. Potaka became a field officer for Aboriginal Family Education groups from 1969-75 and a field officer for the ministry of Fijian Affairs and Rural Development Officer from From 1978-88 she worked as a pre-school officer for the Māori Education Foundation. In her first year, she did a year of fact finding and assisted in the foundation of the Kohanga Reo movement before conducting workshops nationwide for the Kohanga Reo movement and playcentres and kindergartens. Hinetara lives in Maketu near Te Puke, Bay of Plenty, and works as a Māori Education Foundation field officer and in the kiwi fruit industry with her husband. In her position as Māori Education Foundation field officer, she devised a bicultural programme called the Māori Education Foundation family education programme which aims at filling "the need to learn the Māori language and cultures." In 1990 she started a private training establishment called Awhina Whanau: Education Services Trust which is based in Maketu in Te Puke. The establishment offers a three-year diploma course on Māori early childhood education and family education. Now it is linking in with the Māori Universities/ Wananga o Aotearoa.

Potaka was founding president of the Maketu Māori Women’s Welfare League branch. From 1971-73 she was Dominion President of the MWWL. She was awarded the Te Puke Rotary Meritorious Award in 1973, the 1975 NZ Scout Movement Medal of Merit, the Soroptimist Women of the Year Award Tauranga in 1976 and the OBE in 1976. She has been awarded the Queens Women’s Suffrage Medal, and Companion of the New Zealand Merit.

Potaka has written for the Playcentre Journal and used to be an editor for the World Education Fellowship Journal. She has written reports and has given workshops as Māori Education Foundation Pre-School Officer at a conference in Canberra at the ANU, and in Adelaide.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation with Hine Potaka, 4 Sept. 1998.
  • "Hine Potaka Uses The ‘Natural World’ For Te Reo." Tu Tangata 9 (1983): 27.
  • New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa. Ed. Alister Taylor. Vol. 1. Auckland, N.Z.: New Zealand Who’s Who Aotearoa, 1992. 232.


  • "Bi-Lingual Approach To Pre-Schooling - Best Of Both Worlds." Tu Tangata 3 (1981): 26-27.
  • Hine Potaka as Māori Education Foundation pre-school officer, reports on a concept of bi-lingual and bicultural education being incorporated into playcentres and discusses the success of three playcentres at Horohoro, Whangamarino and Rotoiti in pioneering this form of education at pre-school level.
  • "Māori Women in Business." Tu Tangata 23 (Apr./May 1985): 18-19.
  • Potaka presents a clear step-by-step account of her family’s conversion from dairy farming to kiwifruit production outlining the preparation, financial outlay and eventual harvesting of their kiwifruit enterprise.


  • "Hine Potaka Uses The ‘Natural World’ For Te Reo." Tu Tangata 9 (1983): 27-28.
  • 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. 25.