Te Hurinui is of Te Arawa and Ngāi Tahu descent. He has Tūhourangi/ Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Whakaue and Ngāti Pikiao whakapapa through his mother. On his father’s side, he has Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Waitaha and Ngāi Tahu whakapapa. He was born and raised in the village of Te Whakarewarewatanga o te ope tauā a Wāhiao in Rotorua.
Te Hurinui has been involved in Kaupapa Māori research for more than 14 years, primarily in the field of education. He has used Kaupapa Māori research principles in all of his research projects and is adept at mixed, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Of particular note is his research into maintaining student engagement in senior te reo Māori programmes in secondary schools, culturally responsive pedagogies, social and emotional pedagogies and maintaining effective online teaching and learning practices.
He has also published extensively. His doctoral thesis Ngā Whenu Ranga Tahi: drawing from principles of well-being: transforming online synchronous teaching and learning of te reo Māori drew extensively on Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health.