Justice Whata was appointed a High Court judge in 2011. He was based in Christchurch from 2012-2015, with circuit work throughout the South Island. From 2016 he has been based in Auckland, with circuit work including Rotorua, Tauranga, Hamilton and Whangarei. He has adjudicated on a wide range of subject matters, including major common law, commercial, public, environmental, Māori and criminal matters.
He is also a member of the faculty of Te Kura Kaiwhakawā | Institute of Judicial Studies responsible for the Tikanga Programme. While in practice, Justice Whata specialised in Māori legal issues and public and environmental law. He is from Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Tamateatūtahi - Kawiti of Te Arawa.