Phyllis hails from Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Awa. Born in Whakatane raised in Te Teko, Rotoiti, Rotorua (Bay of Plenty New Zealand).
Phyllis started her career in education and moved into the health sector in 1989. She has worked in project management, general management (including operational management of services and teams) and directorship roles. She was Pou Manukura, for Lakes District Health Board, having served as General Manager Māori Health for 21 years.
Phyllis worked in Mental Health and Addictions for 16 years providing leadership and direction to the development of Kaupapa Māori (indigenous) mental health services in 1991. Phyllis was appointed the manager of the first Kaupapa service in the Lakes District. She worked with the Iwi (people of the land) and assisted in the establishment of hospital based services, and Non Government Organisations. Phyllis led the creation of the first Community Mental Health and Addictions Kaupapa Service in Rotorua.
Phyllis moved into general Māori Health in 1986 however she continued to provide leadership in Mental Health and Addictions. Since 2000, Phyllis has worked as the General Manager Māori Health, this role required that she assist the Lakes District Health Board establish and maintain their relationship Iwi.
Phyllis also provided leadership and management support, for the Lakes DHB Māori Health teams, and led a number of projects that supported the development of Māori Health in the DHB.
Phyllis is also a director and member of a number of national and regional committees at a local, regional and national level.
Phyllis is a Ministerial Appointment to the Mental Health Review Tribunal of New Zealand and has served on the tribunal for 24 years. She is also on the National Governance Group for Leading Suicide Prevention for Māori and Pacific people. She co-Chairs Te Huinga o Nga Pou Hauora (Midland Māori Mental Health and Addictions forum) and is a member of a number of committees and forums.
Phyllis was a member of Tumu Whakarae (General Managers Māori Health District Health Boards NZ) in this forum she is the key lead for māori mental health and Māori Workforce champions group.
Phyllis has also participated in a number of Ministry of Health initiatives over the years and was a committee member of the first Māori Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention Strategy in the late 1990’s. She is a current member of the Māori Advisory Committee for the development of the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Phyllis continues to support to the Ministry of Health and the new health environment, Te Aka Whaiora and Te Whatu Ora. She has been trained in facilitation, supervision and mentoring. More importantly she is passionate about Iwi development and will do anything to support Iwi aspirations.