Before joining the Whakatāne District Council as its CE four years ago, Steph has had leadership roles in the Provincial Growth Fund in the Bay of Plenty, served as a Treaty Settlement Negotiator and led the Environmental Group for Raukawa in the Waikato for over 10 years, and was CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ranginui in Tauranga Moana. Prior to that she worked across the public and private sectors in the resource management and primary sectors with a focus on enhancing bi-cultural relationships and practical environmental outcomes.
Steph had also enjoyed diverse governance roles, including being an inaugural member of the Guardians Establishment Committee and then the Waikato River Authority as the Raukawa representative for 2009-2014, Chaired the Upper Waikato River Integrated Catchment Committee for the Waikato Regional Council, Chaired the Tauranga People’s Project to implement a housing first approach, was an Inaugural member of Te Whakareia Board: a JV for home based care between Iwi, Māori NGO’s and mainstream providers, and Chaired the Advisory Board for the University of Waikato Adams High Performance Centre at Mount Maunganui.
As a proud descendent of Irish, Scots, Prussian and Swedish ancestors, Steph counts herself very fortunate to have been adopted as whangai, by the Deane Whānau of Ngatira Marae, Ngāti Ahuru, Raukawa. A ‘blessing and a privilege’ is how Steph describes her background as growing up in a hugely diverse 1970’s community in Tokoroa and then spending the best part of the last 30 years immersed in Te Aō Māori.