Herbert Brantwood Maufe (born Muff) was the son of Henry Maufe (born Muff; the name was changed by deed poll in 1909) and his wife Maude Alice Smithies, and a brother of the architect Edward Brantwood Maufe. He attended the grammar school in Bradford, Yorkshire, and continued his studies at Christ's College, University of Cambridge, where he won the Harkness prize for geology and was awarded the degree Bachelor of Arts (BA) in the natural sciences. He joined the Geological Survey of Scotland in 1901, but was temporarily transferred to the Geological Survey of Ireland during 1902-1903. During 1905-1906 he was seconded to the Colonial Service and investigated possible water supplies along the Mombasa-Nairobi railway line. His report on the geology of the East African Protectorates was submitted under the name H.B. Muff in 1908, but in all his later work he was known by the name Maufe.
In 1910 Maufe was appointed as the first director of the Geological Survey of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and established its headquarters in Bulawayo. During the next 24 years, until his retirement in August 1934, he developed the survey into a highly regarded institution. Other early geologists who joined the Survey during his time as director included A.E.V. Zealley* (1911), B. Lightfoot* (1911), and A.J.C. Molyneux* (1918). During World War II (1939-1946), when the Geological Survey experienced a severe shortage of staff, he worked there again until his return to the United Kingdom at the end of the war.
During his period as director Maufe published about 30 Bulletins and 30 Short Reports of the Geological Survey, dealing with the geology of various regions of the country. He also oversaw the compilation of a provisional geological map of Southern Rhodesia in 1928. The next year, when the International Geological Congress was held in Pretoria, he organised a very successful excursion for delegates through Southern Rhodesia. His publications in other journals included 'The geological section between Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls' (1920) and 'On the formation of red soil and of black vlei soil from dolerite at Salisbury' (1928) in the South African Journal of Science; 'The geology of underground water in Southern Rhodesia' (1921) in the Proceedings of the Rhodesia Scientific Association; 'The Dwyka Tillite near Palapye, Bechuanaland' (1922) in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa; 'Changes of climate in Southern Rhodesia during later geological times' (1930) and 'Some factors in the geographical evolution of Southern Rhodesia and neighbouring countries' (1935) in the South African Geographical Journal.
During his geological exploration of the country Maufe recognised prehistoric stone artefacts in various places. In 1936 he first noticed sites of the Bembesi industry north of Bulawayo. These were later investigated by Neville Jones*. Another find, in 1938, proved that human occupation had preceded the deposition of the Kalahari sands. He described some of his finds in 'New sections in the Kalahari beds at the Victoria Falls, Rhodesia' (Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, 1938). In another contribution to archaeology he identified the mineral pigments used in rock art (Transactions of the Rhodesia Scientific Association, 1928/9).
Maufe was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and was awarded its Lyell Fund in 1909 and its Lyell Medal in 1930. He became a member of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1911 and served as its president in 1918, delivering his presidential address on recent advances in Rhodesian geology. The society awarded him its Draper Memorial Medal in 1934. In 1911 he became a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, served on its council from 1926 to 1933, and in 1927, when the association held its annual congress in Salisbury (now Harare) he served as president of Section B (which included geology). He joined the Rhodesia Scientific Association in 1910 and served two terms as president, during 1913-1915 and 1928-1929. He was a member also of the South African Geographical Society, serving as joint vice-president from 1920 to 1940 and as president in 1934.
Maufe married Doris DeLisle Thompson in 1914, but they were later divorced. He had one son, Anthony DeLisle Maufe.