Paul Fontanne Kingi Potiki

Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe

1918 - 1996

Paul Potiki was born in Wellington of a Ngāi Tahu/Kati Mamoe father (from Rakiura) and an English-French mother. He was educated at Seatoun School, Otaki Māori Boys’ College, and Scots College. Potiki continued his studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He served overseas in the Second World War as a corporal in the 22nd Battalion. During his working career he was employed by the Māori Affairs Department, was a power linesman, and a public servant with the Department of Health. Potiki was an industrial relations adviser to the New Zealand Public Service Association, was vice president of the PSA for seven years and was a Senior Industrial Officer. He was President of the New Zealand Race Relations Council. Potiki had a long history of serving Māori interests through Māori committees, his tribal trust board and as secretary of Ngāti Poneke. Potiki wrote articles on sport, industrial affairs, race relations and politics and was in the process of writing an autobiography prior to his death.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence with Potiki 17 Dec. 1992.
  • Correspondence with Judith Brown, 17 Feb. 1998, and 31 Aug. 2004.
  • Potiki, Paul. "The Rata Resignation." Te Kaea 2 (1980): 6.


  • "Talking about Sports." Te Ao Hou 3 (1952/3): 61-63.
  • Potiki observes that increasing numbers of Māori sports people are figuring prominently in many different sports demonstrating a shift from the previous concentration on rugby. He highlights key Māori performers in golf, surf swimming, tennis, cricket, outdoor basketball, archery and women’s cricket.
  • "Māori Personalities in Sport." Te Ao Hou 5 (1953): 41-43.
  • A report of the major sporting activities of 1953 under the headings of rugby, golf, women’s sport, tennis and departmental sport. Potiki notes that it had been a ‘boom year’ for rugby with successes in All Black selections and in provincial matches.
  • "Māoris and Sport." Te Ao Hou 7 (1954): 48-50.
  • Potiki writes of the opening of the tennis season at Poho-o-Rawiri, Gisborne, and comments on shearing competitions, racing at the Otaki Māori Racing Club golf, and swimming and questions why so few Māori play cricket.
  • "Māoris and Sport." Te Ao Hou 8 (1954): 52-54.
  • This article opens with a comparison between two great rugby fullbacks R. W. H. Scott and George Nepia. Potiki also discusses the ‘fairly new sport’ of marching and the annual Māori Tennis Championships at Gisborne.
  • "Māori Personalities in Sport." Te Ao Hou 9 (1954): 44-46.
  • Potiki provides a biography of the famous Māori rugby player Dick Taiaroa who died on 9th April 1954, discusses a number of Māori sportswomen and writes of the Māori All Blacks tour of Fiji and New Zealand.
  • "Māori Personalities in Sport: The Kennys of Johnsonville." Te Ao Hou 10 (1955): 45-46.
  • An account of the careers of Aylmer, Mervyn, Mick and Brian Kenny - the famous rugby playing family. Aylmer was a Māori All Black in 1938 and Wellington captain in 1940 and the three older boys also played cricket.
  • "Sports." Te Ao Hou 11 (1955): 54-55.
  • Potiki discusses the National Tennis Tournament and the 1954 Māori Tennis Championships held at Gisborne. He also questions why All Black teams rarely have more than one or two Māori members, concluding that Māori players tend to have greater representation in country teams than city teams and that country players tend to be less well-represented in national selections than the highly visible city players.
  • "Sports: Playing Competition Rugby." Te Ao Hou 12 (1955): 52-54.
  • Potiki lists some of the skills in training, technique and tactics that New Zealand Rugby selectors expect of prospective team members. He comments on the vision of Mr J. R. Sheffield, Physical Welfare Officer on the East Coast and writes of the death of Hohepa "Harry" Jacob of Levin who was an All Black in 1920 and resident custodian of the Otaki Māori Racing Club.
  • "Sports." Te Ao Hou 13 (1955): 48.
  • Potiki writes of key Māori sportswomen Janie Maxwell, May Smith and Miss T. Evans and reports on the six men who won places in the 1955 All Blacks. He gives a short account of the South Island Māori Basketball Tournament.
  • "Sports: Playing the Springboks." Te Ao Hou 15 (1956): 46-47.
  • While desirous of Māori representation in the All Blacks team facing the Springboks in their upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand, Potiki notes that amongst the Māori players who toured Australia in 1955 there was ‘a surplus of very competent backs but a dearth of forwards capable of holding the powerful visiting pack.’
  • "Sports." Te Ao Hou 17 (1956): 52.
  • This is a report on women’s hockey, softball, table-tennis, golf, Coronation Sports at Turangawaewae and Hawke’s Bay Rugby.
  • "Māori Rugby 1958." Te Ao Hou 23 (1958): 45.
  • While noticing the growing number of Māori rugby players in provincial and All Black teams, Potiki observes that recent major defeats of Māori teams against the Springboks and Fiji necessitate a ‘need for a stocktaking’ and he pinpoints areas for improvement.
  • "Mutton Bird? Or just Titi?" Te Ao Hou 33 (1960): 54, 63.
  • In this article on ‘one of Māoridom’s most favoured foods’, the titi, Potiki gives a description of the birds’ life-cycle, migratory habits and the location of their colonies. He outlines the work involved in the annual catch of some 300,000 birds in the islands south-west of Stewart Island.
  • "Viewpoint: Ka Pu Te Ruha Ka Hao Te Rangatahi." Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 2.2 (Feb/Mar 1971): 11.
  • Potiki looks back at historical events over the last seventy years that have impacted on Māoridom and required solutions. He discusses the Young Māori Party, the generation of men returning from the First World War, the Depression era, the 1935 Labour Government’s ‘measures to ensure greater equality’, and the era of the 1970s.
  • "The Rata Resignation." Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 2 (Mar./Apr. 1980): 4-6.
  • Potiki comments on the resignation of Matiu Rata from the Labour Party in 1979 and assesses Rata’s contribution as Minister of Māori Affairs in 1972-75. He provides tables illustrating the shift in the Māori electorate voting figures of the 1972, 1975 and 1978 elections and examines Rata’s new role as an independent candidate.
  • Reviews

  • Rev. of Te Riri Pakeha: The White Man’s Anger, by Tony Simpson. Te Kaea: The Māori Magazine 2 (Mar./Apr. 1980): 28.