Tamatha (Ngāti Awa, Waikato Tainui) hails from the mighty Tokoroa where her dad drove trucks and mum worked as an aged care worker. Tamatha’s upbringing has shaped the way she sees the world and knows that her greatest privilege was growing up in a small town with a proud Cook Island, Māori, and working class identity. Growing up in a town dependent on industries that destroy the environment during the John Key era radicalised Tamatha.
Tamatha worked two jobs throughout high school to save up enough money to move to Pōneke to study at Vic. As the first in her whānau to attend University, moving to Wellington was quite the culture shock. Tamatha channelled her energy into advocating for sexual violence prevention in tertiary spaces, better rental housing protections for renters, and public transport discounts for students. She was elected as the first Māori woman to lead the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Tamatha also completed a Master of Resource and Environmental Planning writing her dissertation on the provision of public housing.
In 2019, after having a dispute over liquor bans with her local city councillor, Tamatha stood for the central city on Wellington City Council. During her time as a city councillor, Tamatha:
- Tripled the housing capacity of Wellington City by supporting densification of the inner city through the Spatial Plan
- Got $200m+ for a connected, low-cost, citywide cycleway network
- Secured $10m for the Pōneke Promise project to make town safer and prevent sexual violence in the central city
- Banned all new pokie machines in Wellington including preventing mergers or relocations of class 4 gambling machines
- Restoring Māori place names
- Campaigned with Wellington City Council housing tenants advocating for affordable rents and better public housing standards
In 2023, Tamatha won the seat for Wellington Central with a strong mandate after running the largest grassroots Green electorate campaign in history. Tamatha is the first ever Māori MP for Wellington Central, as well as the youngest MP for the Green Party.