Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Ngati Ruanui, Nga Ruahine, Nga Rauru, Irish.

MBA, Grad Dip Bus Mgmt, Nat Cert Te Reo Maori, Tasmania University Alumni, Stanford University Alumni 2013 & 2014


Debbie brings more than 20year’s experience in Executive Management and Governance combined with a lifetime of commitment to kaupapa Maori and supporting Iwi/Maori advancement economically, socially and culturally.  Committed to empowering communities from ground-up Debbie works for Maori shareholders and has remained actively involved in regional and national Maori development, strategies and policy making. She has a strong unique mix of management experience and knowledge across local and central government, Iwi, commercial, fisheries, social, cultural and environmental leadership.  She is innovative in approach leading development of Maori/Iwi Best Practise Publications for industry and Government, founding a Rangatahi (youth) digital & Design Innovation Program, remodelling and relaunching the successful Stratford Mountain House on Maunga Taranaki, part of creating He Kai Kei Aku Ringa Maori/Government first Economic Action Plan, founding Director on Iwi Collective Partnership collaboration of 15 Iwi Fisheries Assets and Miro Berries collaboration of Maori landowners aspiring to the be the Zespri of Berries. Her guiding philosophy is mahi, mana, and manaakitanga – work hard, with respect, and care for others – values she learned growing up in her close knit whanau in rural Taranaki Patea. An advocate and lobbyist for future focused positive change, Debbie’s fearless brand of leadership means she’s not afraid to stand up for equity and speak up for those in need, and she knows how to handle adversity – something her ancestors faced in the confiscation of their tribal lands just three generations ago. She was the first female Maori Deputy Mayor in South Taranaki. Today, the iwi leader is driven by the promise of a brighter future for her people, particularly rangatahi who are growing up with many more opportunities as well as new challenges, including low wages and jobs.

Debbie being interviewed
Dream Big
Debbie and Rangatahi
Debbie with Tamariki

Leadership Experience

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.


  • 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)
  • National Certificate Te Reo Maori
  • Stanford University 2015, Primary Sector
  • Stanford University 2013, Maori Leadershipf
  • Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year Awards Finalist 2018
  • Finalist Gold Standard Award for Communicator of the Year 2017
  • Impact Wahine 2017 Forum host
  • 2NUiCODE STEAM and Innovation programme Founder
  • Ki Whanau Community Gym Founder
  • Led a delegation of 26 Māori students to Google and Stanford University, as part of the Āmua Ao programme in partnership with Callaghan Innovation, NZQA and iwi, 2016
  • Campaigned successfully to stop experimental seabed mining off West Coast, 2014
  • Campaigned successfully to stop closure of regional hospital, 2009
  • Developed “first past the post” initiative with rangatahi, whanau and schools to raise NCEA achievement for Māori, 2014
  • Developed rangatahi digital coding & innovation program, 2015
  • Keynote speaker at UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples conference in Bangkok, 2009


Key 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


  • 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)