Mahuika was born at Whakawhitira, near Tikitiki, in 1934 to Te Hamana and Tangipo Hemoata Mahuika, and was the youngest of 14 children. Educated at Te Aute College, he gained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland and a Master of Arts from the University of Sydney. He was ordained as an Anglican minister in 1962.
He taught at a number of institutions, including St Stephen's School at Bombay, The Correspondence School, Wellington Teachers' College and the University of Waikato, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the latter establishment in 2004. He was also a member of the council of the University of Waikato.
Mahuika chaired the working party that led to the formation of the Ngāti Porou iwi authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou, and he was elected its inaugural chair. He held that post for over 27 years, until his death, and led the iwi through the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process with the Crown.
- Smallman, Elton; Wilson, Libby (14 February 2015). "Loss of Ngati Porou champion keenly felt". Dominion Post. p. 3.
- Taumaunu, Kororia (9 February 2015). "The life of Dr Apirana Mahuika". Māori Television News. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Honorary Doctors of the University of Waikato". University of Waikato. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Smallman, Elton; Wilson, Libby (10 February 2015). "Father figure, educator, Apirana Mahuika always looked through 'bicultural lens'". Waikato Times. Retrieved 7 March 2015.