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Phil Sunderland, Former Chair, MidCentral DHB Dies

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Phil Sunderland, MidCentral District Health Board Chair from 2010 to 2016, died suddenly on Sunday.

​MDHB’s Chief Executive, Kathryn Cook said the DHB was greatly shocked and saddened by Phil’s sudden illness and death only days after completing his term as Chair of the organisation.

“Phil was an immensely respected leader in health, locally, regionally and nationally. He brought great intellect, commitment and integrity to the role. The people of our community were always at the heart of his being.”

“Phil was also Deputy Chair of the Whanganui DHB and was very committed to supporting the development and delivery of health services across both districts.”

“Locally he has left a lasting legacy across many parts of our health community, being instrumental in establishing Arohanui Hospice and providing unstinting support to the Manawatu Cancer Society and many other community organisations. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the International Pacific College. This commitment to our community was recognised in 2013 when he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health and education.” 

Tributes for Phil are coming in from across the community.

Ian McKelvie, MP for Rangitikei described Phil as a very well-known local rugby administrator, community servant, and a lawyer who gave much time and expertise to many Manawatu voluntary organisations. He also reflected on his major contribution to the relocation of the Manawatu A&P to Manfield Park and also to the development of the showgrounds. “I am shocked to lose such a stalwart of the community.”

Phil was also well-regarded in the law community, working as a partner at Fitzherbert Rowe and spending time as President of the Manawatu District Law Society. Charles Andrews, Partner at Fitzherbert Rowe said: “Phil was a much loved and long standing partner of Fitzherbert Rowe and its predecessor firms. He had not long retired from the practice and will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues.”
MidCentral DHB’s incoming Chair, Dot McKinnon said: “He was a wonderful mentor and friend to me these past three years and I will always appreciate his generosity of spirit and kindness. We will miss him.”

Health Minister Jonathon Coleman was shocked and saddened by Phil’s sudden passing. “My thoughts are with his family. Phil made a huge contribution to health in the MidCentral district. He showed great leadership during a time of considerable change at the DHB. He was a person of high integrity and I always enjoyed my dealings with him.”

Joining him Chai Chua, Director-General of Health expressed his deepest condolences to Phil’s family and his colleagues at MidCentral DHB.

Sally Webb, Chair of the Central Region DHBs talked of Phil as a person who gave everything to his role as Chair of MidCentral DHB. “He was committed to collaboration with DHBs both regionally and nationally.  In the sector, he was deeply respected for his integrity and his ability to get things done – always with a big smile.  I will miss him greatly and with my fellow DHB Chairs, wish him God speed.”

Kathryn Cook said: “While we remember Phil for the significant role he played in our community, Phil was first and foremost a dedicated family man. Our hearts are with his family. Personally, I will miss his big heart, warm smile and unwavering support.”

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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