Norma was born and raised on a farm in South Africa. After graduation in 1980 she started working as a journalist for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. During her career at the broadcaster, which spanned over 17 years, she filled several positions - that of journalist, radio announcer and television newsreader. She also did a lot of freelance work in print journalism.
Prior to her move to New Zealand in 1997, she was the presenter of a daily news actuality programme on public broadcast radio as well as a regular evening newsreader on television. After moving to New Zealand she joined the Newstalk ZB team in Christchurch and later the local television station (the now defunct CHTV) where she was the news editor.
When the station was sold to an overseas interest, she spent two years teaching a course in journalism at the University of Canterbury before moving in she worked for to public relations at various New Zealand organisations, including AgResearch. She moved to Dunedin in 2008 and in 2011, after retiring from full time employment, she moved to Middlemarch.
She is actively involved in several local organisations, notably so, the Strath Taieri Lions, the Strath Taieri Historical Society and the Middlemarch Community Garden
Norma is married to Richard Emerson and has two children - a son and a daughter both in their twenties.