Born into a traditional Maori family; deaf at age 2 from meningitis. Kelston School for the Deaf until age 12, then Melville High School in Hamilton. After about 9 or 10 years out of school, went to work at the Kelston School as a "residential social worker" (dormitory supervisor or counselor). At this time he also joined a deaf Maori organization and began to discover his ethnic roots. Participated in the development of new New Zealand signs to express Maori concepts that the "white" signs did not adequately represent. His full native Maori name was Te Wikiriwhi Pokaitara.
People of the Eye, p.170-175.