Taare was the 12th tamaiti whangai or foster child, from shortly after her birth, of Hoani Taare and his daughter Jane, who fostered 29 children. He was brought up on a farm and attended local schools in the East Cape region of New Zealand.
While still at university he wrote the first Maori opera, Uenuku and Niwareka, broadcast in 1951. He became a teacher in schools in New Zealand and Niue, where he adopted a son. He became a senior advisor on Maori and Pacific Island education for the NZ government in 1979.
As a kaumatua, or tribal elder, Taare was known for his wisdom and kindness, and worked at Mt. Eden Prison with Maori inmates and their families, and was dedicated to writing down the oral traditions and knowledge of his tribe and others.
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