Hēmi Pōtatau was born at Nuhaka, Hawke’s Bay and was educated at St Stephen’s College, Auckland, and Scots College, Wellington. He continued his studies at Otago University and Knox College in Dunedin. Potatau was ordained in the Presbyterian Church. In 1933 he became Assistant Minister in Taupo and then served at Te Whaiti, Taumarunui and ōpōtiki. He served with Māori Battalion for five years during the Second World War. In 1964 he was appointed Moderator-Designate of the Māori synod of the Presbyterian Church and took up his new position in 1965, becoming the first Māori Presbyterian Minister to become Moderator of the Māori Synod. His autobiography He Hokinga Mahara is the first autobiography written in the Māori language.
- "People and Places." Te Ao Hou 48 (1964): 30.
- "Hēmi Pōtatau." Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 1: Te Whakahuatanga O Te Ao: Reflections of Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. 345.
- He Hokinga Mahara. Tamaki-makau-rau, Aotearoa [Auckland, N.Z.]: Longman Paul, 1991.
- "From He Hokinga Mahara." Te Ao Mārama: Contemporary Māori Writing. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 1: Te Whakahuatanga O Te Ao: Reflections of Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. 345-348.
- "Traditional Marae: Suggestions For A Māori Studies Syllabus For Secondary Schools." Auckland, N.Z.: Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland, N.Z., 1970. No further details.
- "In Praise Of Māori Language." Te Māori 5.6 (Nov. 1973): 6-7.
- In this discussion on the Māori language Pōtatau distinguishes Māori as a vernacular language as opposed to a pidgin language, and comments on its survival.
- "Freyberg." NZ Listener 19 Mar. 1988: 13.
- Pōtatau writes of ‘two very important events’ which were omitted from Lt-Gen Thornton’s television programmes on Lt-Gen Freyberg: General Freyberg agreeing to accept Field-Marshal Messe’s sword of surrender, and the 28th Māori Battalion winning the Freyberg Cup which Pōtatau describes in great detail.
- Te Ao Hou 44 (1963): 15.
- Brief note on Pōtatau’s appointment as moderator-designate of the Māori synod of the Presbyterian Church.
- "People and Places." Te Ao Hou 48 (1964): 30-33.
- Scott, Sue. "Life of Pōtatau in Māori for printing." Evening Post 17 Jul. 1990: 40.