Our People, Our Environment, Our Future
Ngati Ruanui, Nga Ruahine, Nga Rauru, Irish.
University of Tasmania, Australia Masters Business Administration Graduate Diploma Business Mgmt
Nat Cert Te Reo Maori
Stanford University 2013, Leadership Stanford University 2015, Primary Sector
NZ Institute of Directors (NZIOD)
NZ Business Mentor (NZBM) Institute Management Consultant NZ (IMCNZ)
Married to Neil Packer, (Nga Ruahine, Ngati Apa, Ngati Kuia),
3 Children, 2 son n laws, 5 mokopuna
For over two decades this outspoken wahine has advocated for whanau, the environment, racial equity and future focused opportunities for rangatahi. Currently working in Iwi as CEO for Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui she has developed free health care, taken digital equity head on, developed rangatahi future focused initiatives and submitted on a number of Maori specific legislation and policies. She holds a number of qualifications from Tasmania University and Stanford Universtity including Masters Business administration, Grad Diploma Business Management & Leadership. As a grassroots activitist she has challenged and called out the government on many fronts across health, socal justice, education and institutional racism and has spoken at United Nations about Indigenous community ground-up development. A committed kaitiaki fighting to protect the environment specifically leading the campaign to stop seabed mining off Te Tai Hauauuru coast confronting many adversities and personal sacrifices. She is often swamped by rangatahi who she passionately supports. On a number of boards and Directorships she enjoys whanau, surfing and IronMaori.
With the support of husband Neil, whanau and Iwi, Debbie has spent more than two decades serving her community advocating for whanau, the environment, racial equity and future focused opportunities. Debbie’s principled brand of grassroots activism means she’s not afraid to speak up for those in need, knows how to handle adversity and has proven stamina.
In 1999, Debbie bought her whanau back to Taranaki to become CEO of Te Reo Irirangi o Taranaki and in 2002 was appointed Executive to Whakaruruhau National Maori Radio Collective. Debbie attributes much of this era as her initiation into Maori politics working
with leaders such as Huirangi Waikereperu, Te Miringa Hohaia, Hone Harawira, Willie
Jackson and Dame Tariana Turia.
In 2008, frustrated by environmental issues, Debbie stood and was elected onto the South Taranaki District Council as the second highest polling candidate and was appointed first wahine Maori Deputy Mayor. As the only Māori on the local council, she secured the appointment of an Iwi Liaison Management position, an increase of Tangata Whenua funds, and the involvement of Iwi on standing committees & policy development.
In 2010, Debbie accepted the position as Kaiarataki for Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui and technical adviser to the Iwi Chairs Forum she worked passionately to assert Māori rights through legislative reforms environmentally, including the new EEZ legislation affecting seabed mining today.
In 2012, Debbie was appointed to the Māori Economic Development Panel where she ensured “He Kai kei Aku Ringa Action plan” focused on whanau-centric policies holding the government to account across multiple agencies to invest better in our whanau, believing better education, provides better income which provides better health.
In 2014, she led tangata whenua action against seabed mining mogul Trans Tasman Resources wanting to mine 65 sq-km from the seabed of Te Tai Hauauuru, a battle that was to continue for 5 years involving precedence setting.
From a young age, Debbie has been thrust into various leadership roles, including single motherhood aged 19, with multiple jobs to support her daughter.
Having worked in various roles at Māori Affairs, TVNZ and iwi radio, Debbie managed to complete a Master’s Degree when her second daughter was just six months old.
In 1999, Debbie brought her family home to Taranaki to become CEO of Te Reo Irirangi o Taranaki and in 2002 was appointed an Executive to the National Māori Radio Collective.
In 2008, Debbie was elected onto the South Taranaki District Council as the second highest polling candidate, and was appointed Deputy Mayor.
As the only Māori on the local council, she secured the appointment of an Iwi Liaison Management position, an increase of Tangata Whenua funds, and the involvement of Iwi on standing committees & policy development.
In 2010, Debbie accepted the position as Kaiarataki for Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui and technical adviser to the Iwi Chairs Forum she worked passionately to assert Māori rights through legislative reforms environmentally.
During the review of the EEZ legislation she achieved including “Iwi consultation” as a mandatory part of the new legislation.
In 2012, Debbie was appointed to the Māori Economic Development Panel where she ensured “He Kai kei Aku Ringa Action plan” focused on whanau determination.
Brief Political Achievements
- Led biannual delegation of Rangatahi to Stanford University and Silicone Valley
- Campaigned successfully to stop experimental seabed mining off Te Tai Hauauuru, 2014
- Campaigned successfully to stop closure of regional hospital, 2009
- Campaigned and protested to stop Emergency services to regional hospital 2019
- Developed rangatahi digital coding & innovation program, 2015
- Developed Best Practice Guide for Engagement with Maori – oil and minerals sector 2014
(winner 2015 Taranaki Regional Council “Environmental action in the community”)
- Pioneered parallel engagement approach with Crown Agencies strategic and legislation development 2012
- Advocate and enabler of primary healthcare in rural towns, digital access to GP services, 2018
- Maintaining accessibility of coronial services in the Taranaki region 2018.
- Promoting criminal justice reform 2019
- Development of Maori Tourism initiatives Taranaki Maunga 2019
- Keynote speaker at UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples conference in Bangkok, 2009
- University of Tasmania, Australia
- Masters Business Administration
- Graduate Diploma Business Mgmt
- NZ Institute of Directors (NZIOD)
- NZ Business Mentor (NZBM)
- NZ Institute of Management (NZIM)
- Institute Management Consultant NZ(IMCNZ)
Current Professional Roles
- Indigenous Women’s Business Network member
- Hautupua GP Limited Director
- Tui Ora Limited Director
- Ngati Ruanui Holdings Operating Company Limited Director
- Ngati Ruanui Holdings Corporation Limited Director
- Taranaki Capital Partners Limited Director and Chair
- Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust – Kaiarataki
- Te Huarahi Tika Trust Member
- Miro Berries Partnership Limited Director
- Tui Ora Limited Maori Enterprise Audit and Risk Committee Chair
- Tui Ora Limited Economic Development Committee Chair
- Tapuae Roa Taranaki Regional Economic Development governance member
- Homecare Medical Limited Director
- Stratford Mountain House tourism Operator
- 2014-2018 Maori Economic Development Panel – Member
- 2014-2017 Iwi Collective Fisheries Partnership Ltd – Director
- 2007-2010 South Taranaki District Council – Deputy Mayor
- 2012-2016 Te Pataka o Rauru – Director-Chairman
- 2012-2016 Nga Rauru Fishing Investment Ltd – Director- Chairman
- 1999-2008 CEO Te Reo Irirangi o Taranaki CT
- 2004-2008 Whakaruruhau o Nga Reo Irirangi o Aotearoa- Executive
- 2003-2008 Maori Media Network – Executive Director
- 1997-1999 TVNZ – Marketing Account Manager
- 1994-1997 Telecom NZ – Marketing
- 1991-1993 Ministry Social Welfare – rural services officer
- 1988-1990 Self-employed Palmerston North and Wellington
- 1986-1988 Maori Trustee – administrator
- 1984-1986 Maori Affairs cadet
- 1984-1986 Whanganui Savings Bank part time – teller
- 1984-1986 Whanganui Hospital – cleaner
- Led protest march & advocacy for better hospital & health services
- Challenged Min Justice to reinstate kaiwhakamana ex-gang member to assist inmates
- Called out racism going vial when Black Facing on South Taranaki parade float
- Called out Oranga Tamariki advertising tamariki far care on TradeMe
- Challenged Oranga Tamariki state care going viral led 3 buses to Hands off march
Leading opposition to seabed mining permit offshore in Te Tai Hauauru
- Organised and led protest with petition to parliament opposing seabed mining
- Advocated political support for marine sactuary
- Led 3 successful court cases against permit holder TTR and currently in Court of Appeal
- Publicly holding govt and ministers to account
Fighter Against Poverty
Championing change from the ground up
- Led delegations of rangatahi to Standford Uni & Silicone Valley to educate for future focused employment
- Addressed digital equality by founding rangatahi & tamariki coding & innovation program
- Founded whanau based gym to improve wellbeing
- Established micro enterprises developing highly sort skills in precision horticulture, tourism, and primary sector