Marata Ketekiri Tamaira hails from Aotearoa New Zealand and has genealogical ties with the central North Island tribe of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. She received an MA in Pacific Islands studies at the University of Hawai‘i in 2009 and completed a PhD in gender, media, and cultural studies at the Australian National University in 2015. Tamaira’s intellectual interests are wide-ranging, covering indigenous politics and art, settler colonialism, and museum studies.
Her scholarship has featured in numerous academic journals, books, and magazines, and in 2009 she edited "The Space Between: Negotiating Culture, Place, and Identity in the Pacific." Her writing repertoire also encompasses poetry. In 2016 her poem “Night Ceremony” was published in "Biography." She is a seasoned teacher and has taught Pacific studies and visual culture at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as well as at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tamaira has also undertaken numerous speaking engagements, including in 2016 when she was invited to be a guest speaker at Harvard University as part of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
In 2022 Tamaira left full-time employment to pursue creative writing. In 2023 she completed her first children’s picture book manuscript, which is currently under peer-review, and she is working on her first novel. Much of Tamaira’s creative work focuses on her Māori heritage and traces the links between ancestral connections, the power of place and memory, and the transformative quest for identity and belonging. States Tamaira, “As indigenous people, we need to be the lightbearers of our own stories.”
Tamaira lives with her husband and daughter on Hawai‘i Island, Hawai‘i.