Tawhi Thomas (Ngāti Maniapoto) graduated from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 1997 and has worked constantly as an actor, writer and teacher. In 2001 he received the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Outstanding New Play for his thriller Have Car Will Travel. The following year he was awarded the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, awarded annually to an outstanding new playwright in the early stages of their career. His play Hui won the Adam NZ Play Award in 2012 and premiered with Silo Theatre at the Auckland Arts Festival in 2013. His other works include Coupling, Doughboy, Take it or Leave it and Jangle.
His play Pakaru won the 2019 Adam NZ Play Award award, making him the first playwright to win the Adam NZ Play Award twice. Pakaru went on to premiere at the Kia Mau festival that year.