Tairāwhiti Proud: Elizabeth was born in Gisborne where she lives with her wife, Alofa Aiono, her dog Indiana, and cats Havana and Chicago. On her father’s side, she is Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Oneone, Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri. On her mother’s side, Elizabeth hails from County Clare and County Tipperary in Ireland.
Mana Wāhine Leadership: Elizabeth’s moko kauae symbolises ‘waewae pākura’ – the footsteps of the pūkeko. This is not only an ancient term used in carving and weaving but also about holding space. She reflects this by a style of leadership that emphasises teamwork and collaboration. Elizabeth also creates and holds space to ensure the mana of the most marginalised is enhanced and their mauri recognised and valued.
Life-long Grassroots Activist: Elizabeth has been community-based, focused on kaupapa Māori and Te Tiriti issues for 40 years. She works on local and national projects across health, mental health, suicide and violence prevention and youth development. Elizabeth has represented Rainbow and indigenous human rights issues nationally and overseas, including at the United Nations in Geneva.
A Fierce Voice for Takatāpui and Young People: As a leader within Rainbow and youth development sectors for over 30 years, Elizabeth has mentored over 50 youth leaders and young people. Despite her hectic schedule, she is known for dropping everything if one of her young people calls. Elizabeth founded Tīwhanawhana Trust in 2001 to advocate for takatāpui to “tell our stories, build our communities and leave a legacy.” Elizabeth bases all of her work from this tūrangawaewae.
Ground-breaking Researcher: Elizabeth’s PhD on takatāpui identity and well-being is required reading in universities here and internationally, including in Australia, USA and Europe. Her takatāpui suicide prevention resources are used in health and school settings across the country. Elizabeth brings Te Tiriti o Waitangi/takatāpui-based advice to current research projects addressing: assisted reproductive health and family formation, LGBTIQ young people health and well-being, trans and non-binary health and well-being, and gender inclusive maternity care.
Signature Purple Flair: Elizabeth’s vibrant style is part of her life as an artist. She studied at Toihoukura, the leading Māori art school in Gisborne and her artwork hangs in the Rainbow Room in Parliament and at the United Nations in New York.