Emma was born in Wellington, raised in Lower Hutt, and spent holidays between her mother’s Pākehā whānau in Takaka and her father’s side at Kuku where her marae is and in Levin where her father's parents lived. She graduated with BA in Art History from the University of Otago in 2004; completed a Graduate Diploma in Spanish from Massey University in 2015; achieved Level 4 - Poupou Huia Te Reo from Te Wānanga o Raukawa in 2018, and graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Auckland in 2020.
She has worked as a recruitment consultant, executive assistant, and communications lead researcher and since January 2021 has worked as a House Officer at the Counties Manukau DHB.
Emma is a freelance writer with bylines in The Guardian, Stuff, Spinoff, and Newsroom.co.nz. She has published papers in peer-reviewed journals, and has presented papers and chaired sessions in conferences and media and literary festivals.
She has received various awards and in 2020 was awarded the Voyager Opinion Writer of the Year.
She was a political commentator for the 2017 General Election and gave political commentary for Stuff.co.nz; Newsroom; The Spinoff; Newshub's The Nation; RadioLive and the Newshub televised election night special.
At the 2018 Auckland Writers Festival 'Writing the Suffrage Past' she presented a commissioned essay as part of a collaboration between the festival and the Auckland War Memorial Museum for the 125th Anniversary of Suffrage. She hosted a seven-part podcast series aired on Radio New Zealand in July 2020 entitled "Getting Better: a podcast on Māori Health equity." https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/getting-better.
She has been a regular panellist from 2016 to the present on the AM Show; Breakfast TV; RNZ's The Panel'; Newshub's The Nation; The Hui and introduced as a 'social commentator' with a special interest in Māori, health, political and social issues.
She is a member of Te Hā - the Māori writers committee of Toi Māori Aotearoa.
- Email correspondence from Emma Espiner, 28 Apr 2021.
- We're all Māori Now. in The Journal of Urgent Writing. Auckland, NZ: Massey University Press, Vol. 2 (2017).
- Matters of Substance. 29.1 (2018). https//www.drugfoundation.org.nz/matters-of-substance/march-2018/step-into-the-light/
- Espiner is guest editor.
- Māori Health Review 1. New Zealand Medical Student Journal. 2019, 29.
- Māori Health Review 3. New Zealand Medical Student Journal. E. Espiner and N. Houia-Ashwell. 2020, 31.
- Māori Health Review 2. New Zealand Student Journal, 2020. 30.
- Letter to the Editor "Beyond Covid-19: Five Actions Which Would Improve the Health of All New Zealaders." New Zealand Medical Journal. E. Espiner, S. Hart, G. Poole, T. Mullaney & S.M. Hoh. 2020, 133 (1515).
- Enlightened. Te Whē Māori Literary Journal. 2020. 1.
- Mihi ki a JC. Te Whē Māori Literary Journal. 2020. 1.