Marama grew up all over Aotearoa. She was born in Auckland, started school in Wellington and lived in Dunedin and Christchurch during her earliest years.
Marama's whakapapa is Ngāti Porou (Te Whānau-a-Tuwhakairiora, Te Whānau-a-Tāpuhi), Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi.
Marama was born into the movement, her parents met as young, urban Māori activists. Her family shared the struggles and triumphs of so many other Māori and Pacific families who uprooted themselves from their homelands to make South Auckland their home.
"Everything is supposed to be connected. We are supposed to be connected to each other as neighbours and as a global community. My wellbeing is supposed to be connected to yours. We are supposed to be connected to the life systems that nourish us. We are supposed to be connected to the future we are designing for generations to come. My pride in my whakapapa is supposed to be connected to your pride in yours.” -- Maiden Speech to Parliament, 4 November 2015
Marama holds a Bachelor of Arts from Auckland University and a Graduate Diploma in International Diplomacy for Indigenous Studies from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.
Before becoming a Green, Marama had a ten-year career at the Human Rights Commission while also raising a family. She worked extensively with diverse youth as well as providing training for others in advocacy, race relations and Te Tiriti issues. She has also been a Mentor, a Board member and founding member of several community organisations concerned with youth, justice and women's issues. She was also an active campaigner for the Ahi Kaa Action Group, Ngāti Porou / Te Whānau-a-Apanui opposition to deep sea oil exploration and onshore mining.
In 2013, Marama was appointed Chief Panelist of the Glenn Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. Her involvement deepened her connection to political movements for environmental and social change.
Marama and the Green Party share a natural affinity. Her father, actor, director and writer Rawiri Paratene, is a former Green candidate. Marama has campaigned for years alongside and for Green causes. The alignment between Green values and a wāhine Māori indigenous rights campaigner and advocate was always meant to be.
In 2013, then Co-Leader Metiria Turei sought out Marama to stand in the by-election for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti following the untimely death of Parekura Horomia. Marama turned her energy, activism and advocacy experience to the Green cause and has worked tirelessly for the Party since.
As an MP
Marama stood again at the 2014 general election and became an MP following Russel Norman's resignation in 2015. Since then, she has made an impact as a voice for kaupapa Māori aspirations and ensured the Greens have a constant and valued presence in many communities. She's also made significant waves. On one of her first days in the House she was expelled for standing up for victims of domestic and sexual violence. She also launched and led the Cross-Party Inquiry into Homelessness alongside Labour MP Phil Twyford.
Marama retains the determination to stand up for the rights of indigenous communities everywhere, most visibly in her campaign for the rights of Palestinians on the Women's Boat to Gaza.
Marama was ranked third on the Party list by Green members before the 2017 general election. Since the departure of Metiria Turei as Co-Leader, she is the highest ranked woman in the Green caucus. She is also the sole current Green MP of Māori descent. She is Green Party spokesperson for Māori Affairs, Housing, Pacific Peoples, Disability, Ethnic Affairs, Auckland Issues, and Sport and Recreation. She also holds the role of Deputy Musterer (Whip) and Deputy Chair of the Māori Affairs Select Committee.
Marama currently lives in Manurewa, and is a proud mother to six tamariki.