Paratene Matchitt was born in Tokomaru Bay, on the East Cape. He attended St Peter’s Māori College (now Hato Petera College) in Northcote, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, before going to Auckland Teachers’ College. In 1957, he moved to Dunedin to specialise in arts and crafts under the supervision of Gordon Tovey, who encouraged Matchitt to develop his own art alongside his teaching practice.
Matchitt recieved training in carving techniques and design from master carver Pineāmine Taiapa. In the 1960s, Matchitt became interested in the Māori prophetic movements – specifically in Te Kooti and his Ringatū religion. He adapted its symbolism for his own visual language of symbols and colours. His work can be found in many public and civic spaces throughout Aotearoa, including his iconic sculptures of birds and sea life on Wellington’s *City to Sea Bridge* (1994). Over the past 60 years, Matchitt has played a pivitol role in the development of contemporary Māori art through his leadership in arts education and as president of Ngā Puna Waihanga (1982–99).