Born at Otahuhu in Tamaki Makau rau, Pita was educated at Cornwall Primary School, Remuera Intermediate School and Auckland Boys’ Grammar School. He continued his studies at Auckland University and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1970.
When at university, he co-founded “Nga Tamatoa” with Syd and Hannah Jackson, Taura Eruera and others; this group is the Māori student radical group which initiated Treaty protest at Waitangi. He co-authored a submission to the Statutes Revisions Committee, on the Race Relations Bill for Tamatoa in 1971.
Aside from a period overseas, he served as a member of the Auckland District Māori Council and delegate to the New Zealand Māori Council from his graduation through to the late 1990s. In these roles he researched and wrote a significant body of material, mainly in the form of submissions to select committees and similar bodies. He also represented the District Council in a number of planning cases over this period. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, he was a trustee, secretary and legal adviser to a number of Māori land authorities including S438 Trusts and Māori Land Incorporations. These included also those specific to his own hapu and whanau such as the Tuati and Kiwinui Trusts.
Within the Tamaki Makau Rau region, he worked over a period of fifteen years to establish a number of urban marae including Orakei in particular, and Mataatua (Mangere), Papakura and Manurewa marae. The same skills have been applied more recently to promote development of the Piritahi Marae on Waiheke Island, including establishment of health facilities on the marae.
He ended a long academic career at the Auckland Institute of Technology [now the Auckland University of Technology] in 1997, which included input into a range of degree programmes at Auckland University and input into the assistance of Māori students at the Law School in particular. He also had a special involvement and interest in the impact of local government activities on the Māori interest. His interest in this area led him to undertake service on the [then] Auckland Regional Authority Planning Committee and continue for six years as Chair of the Māori Representatives Committee of the Auckland City Council. He has carried out a range of research-based consultancy projects for a number of local authorities (Auckland City and Manukau City in particular), and has played a leading role in co-ordinating Māori input into local government statutory reform in 1988, 1989 [LGA], 1990, 1991 [RMA] and most recently in 2000, 2001 [LGA]. In relation to the most recent reforms, he led a team of Māori expert advisers working with Nga Matakokiri Māori, the Māori Advisory Committee to Local Government New Zealand.
In 2001 he spent a period of time in the United States looking at Afro-American on-demand publishing operations. On his return to New Zealand, he established Te Ngutu o Te Ika Publications as a vehicle for his own writing and as a means of publishing material of importance to Māori.
He lives and works from Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Since leaving academe, he works as a Public Sector Consultant and publisher. He writers poetry, short stories, novels [two, both unpublished] and non-fiction research studies, articles, seminars, conference papers, essays, chapters in books for other authors, and his own reports, monographs and books.
- Correspondence from Pita Rikys Feb. 1998, and 31 Aug. 2004.
- Te Kaea 4 (1980): 33.
- Te Ao Mārama: Regaining Aotearoa: Māori Writers Speak Out. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 2: He Whakaatanga O Te Ao: The Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 237.