Tāwhanga Nopera

Dip. Art and Design, MFA (2nd Class Hons.), Practice-led PhD candidate – The School of Māori and Pacific Studies, The University of Waikato Te Whāriki Takapou – Māori sexual and reproductive health researcher and promoter Te Rākei Whakaehu Charitable Trust – Chairperson Body Positve – Board member Te Pātaka Ohomairangi – Board member

“I am a transgender digital and performance artist, and kaupapa Māori academic, currently in the final stages of the first Kaupapa Māori creative practice-based PhD, through the School of Māori and Pacific Development at the University of Waikato.

 My research and art investigates inbetween space and is grounded in te pā harakeke, through raranga – the traditions of under and over Māori weaving. I create predominantly through digital image, digital video, creative writing and performance art and I have exhibited works and published research all over this beautiful planet; connneting and sharing with Indigenous artists and scholars around the world and at home in Aotearoa.

I contracted HIV when I was 22 and have sought ways over the following 18 years to overcome poverty, addiction, rape, racial discrimination, transphobia, depression and suicidal patterns - through mātauranga; the powerful knowledge left by our tūpuna.


I have a particular interest in ways that people are impacted upon by notions of power, and I seek out ways to transform in positive ways from traumatic experiences; where people feel empowered to be happy in their own skins. I theorise kaupapa Māori, transgender identites, sexuality, and the ways that raranga can shift negative mediations of these.

I am of Te Arawa descent with my iwi being – Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Wāhiao, Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whaoa, Ngāti Tarawhai and Ngāti Rangitihi, and I also have firm Waikato (Ngāti Amaru) and Ngāpuhi (Ngai Tawake) whakapapa. I am based in my papakainga at Ohinemutu, Rotorua.

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