Both his parents were schoolteachers. Parekowhai spent his childhood and attended school in Auckland's North Shore suburbs. After leaving high-school, Parekowhai worked as a florist's assistant before commencing his BFA at Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts (1987–1990). Parekowhai trained as a high-school art teacher, before returning to Elam to complete his MFA (1998–2000).
"...interweaves the canon of “high art” with cultural tradition, the handmade object with mass-produced tourist tat, the imported with the proudly colloquial. With the diligence of a cultural props person, he appropriates the already appropriated in a manner that is often humorous, at times uncomfortable..."
Despite the range of Parekowhai's output, his practice is linked throughout, both stylistically - a characteristic 'gloss' of high production value, and thematically.
On First Looking into Chapmans Homer - an installation of two bronze bulls on grand pianos, two bronze olive saplings and the figure of a stoic security guard was his entry in 54th La Biennale di Venezia in 2011.