Marama grew up in a multicultural Presbyterian church in Dunedin – First Church of Otago.
She moved to Auckland for work at the age of 21. Her parents followed suit in the early 2000’s. For the majority of their time working in the ministry, Marama’s parents served in small rural churches around the South Island.
Marama’s father decided not to serve in traditional Pacific Island parishes during most of his ministry career, considering the pressure it would bring to his palagi wife. It was only until his last church that he joined the Pacific Island community and became the first Tuvaluan minister in Auckland to establish a Tuvaluan church that was island-specific, that he established the Niutau church (for families from Niutau island). This was met by criticism from the Tuvaluan community who disagreed with the segregation of Tuvaluan churches by ‘island.’ But years later several other Tuvaluan ministers followed his example and set up other island-specific church branches.
Marama was in her midthirties when she fell pregnant with her eldest son Maheu. At the time, she was the head of the Sunday school ministry in her father’s church. She describes this as being the hardest challenge she faced as a Christian and also daughter of the church minister. Church leaders accepted her circumstances and wanted her to stay in leadership.
She was the subject of criticism and gossip throughout the wider Tuvaluan community during this time, her profile particularly well known due to her role as a presenter on Tagata Pasifika. Her pregnancy broke her father’s heart and shattered the dreams he had for Marama, having being reared in the church. He later voluntarily took up the role of taking care of Maheu once Marama returned to full-time work post-birth.
Marama is now heavily involved in the community projects within the Auckland Tuvaluan community which she considers her passion at the moment. She considers herself still strong in her faith and relationship with God.