Paratene Matchitt was born in Tokomaru bay East Cape in 1933. He is of Whanau Apanui and Ngati Porou descent. He attended St Peter’s Maori Boys College, then went to Auckland Teachers College. After graduating, he took a Dunedin based course in teaching arts and crafts in schools. In 1957, he began his career as arts and craft adviser for the South Auckland Education Board. He currently lives in Napier and has been an important figure in contemporary Maori art since the 1960s. He was known then for his expressive paintings. He has since completed commissions in various sculptural media, carvings, paintings, prints and drawings for schools, marae, businesses, and others. In the 1950s Matchitt worked with a group of young Maori artists training to be art specialists and teachers. The peers of Matchitt’s were Ralph Hotere, Fred Graham, and Arnold Wilson. Together and separately they were formative in their reinvigoration of maori motifs and their personal/contemporised interpretations of ancestral stories. He is known for combining traditional Maori artforms with those of modernist art. His work also references events from New Zealand's history, particularly the Maori prophetic movements of the 19th century and most specifically Te Kooti.