It is my pleasure to write in support of one of the most thoughtful, kind leaders that I met in my working life. Phyllis epitomises the concept of manaaki the underpinning philosophy of her leadership style. Manaaki means that all relationships actively maintain and enhance the mana of others, and manaaki means that care is taken so that the relationships are productive and achieve the best outcome. Phyllis manages to achieve much through people wanting to engage and to participate in the activities that she deems to be important to oranga (health).
I first met Phyllis in 1990 when she presented at a national mental health conference that I was facilitating. I was impressed by her confidence and knowledge of mental health and her passion for making a difference to Māori. “She was my kind of gal!” We have been friends and colleagues since. Some of Phyllis’ empathy comes from her experience of mental health services. She is the child of a father who spent some time in Tokanui hospital. In her long term relationship with her Tane they have three sons and five mokopuna, all of whom hold a special place in her heart.
Phyllis is a well known kapa haka leader and significant member of Tūhourangi, Ngāti Wāhiao Kapa Haka. She actively supports her whānau participation by fundraising, cooking and other necessities for kapa haka. All of this she does whilst carrying out her duties as the General Manager, Māori Health Lakes District Health Board (DHB).
Her leadership has seen growth in Māori participation in health generally and a huge increase in Māori knowledge around mental health. Phyllis has ensured that she has kaumātua support and advice creating paid positions for them, inspirating other DHBs who have followed her lead. Because of Phyllis, Lakes DHB is one of the services with a relationship with their iwi, and are aware of their tikanga. Ka nui te mihi.
Phyllis is the type of leader that anyone would like on their team . She is inspirational, she is aspirational and she is kind. I am proud to know Phyllis and her whānau.
Ngā mihi nui ki a koe e te Māreikura.