Meet Chrissie Phillips


I was born and raised in Te Awamutu and spent time working and travelling in Australia, before moving home in 1984. 

I then started work at NZCDC (New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company), before it merged with Kiwi Co-operative Dairies, and later joined with New Zealand Dairy Group, and the New Zealand Dairy Board, to form Fonterra in 2001.

I began my career working in the lab, and then at the waste treatment plant, before moving to the consumable store, where I’ve been Purchasing and Inventory Co-Ordinator for the last 28 years. The consumable store is the supply hub for the site, from tea and coffee, to pumps and motors, inwards goods, workorders for the plant, supplies and maintenance consumables.  

In 1987 I met Dennis, on the site’s casein floor, and the rest is history!  

Two years later we got married in our garden at our Tirau home and held our wedding reception in the site’s former butter processing plant, which had been converted to the ‘Anchor social club’ in 1980.

The social club really brings staff and families together. We’ve held so many celebrations there over the years, including birthdays, Christmas parties, long service celebrations – and our wedding reception!

We have three daughters, Kiri, Tara, and Paige who are our absolute pride and joy. As a family, we share many wonderful memories at Tirau, with family days and social events over the years.

Dennis grew up in Reporoa and as a talented rugby player, spent his secondary school in Auckland on a rugby scholarship. He then began his career back in Reporoa at NZCDC before applying to transfer to Tirau.  

As part of his job interview, Dennis recalls being asked what rugby position he played. The inter-site rugby competition was coming up and the Stirling cup was on the line. Luckily, Tirau needed a centre (his position!), and Dennis joined the site in 1982.

Dennis is now in his 45th year on site and works as a Supervising Operator. He has held many roles over the years and has enjoyed learning different skills across the various levels of casein production. 

This August will mark my 40th year working at the Tirau site and I’m happy to say that my role brings me huge satisfaction. 

I’m in charge of the day-to-day running of the consumable store, and it can be very busy! But I enjoy the challenge of being able to cover so many aspects of a role. In a smaller site like Tirau, many of us have dual roles and responsibilities. 

With 80 years of service between us, Dennis and I have seen plenty of changes in the industry. 

It’s nice to be able to be on the same page with updates and stories over the years - it’s like speaking the same language!

The opportunity to have worked in one industry for so many years is amazing. From NZCDC, to Fonterra – it’s been an incredible journey and we have so much to be grateful for.

Almost 40 years on from when we first me, Dennis and I are delighted that our eldest daughter Kiri has recently joined the team. 

Kiri has always thought of Fonterra as being really family orientated, so we’re excited that she’s now officially part of our (second!) family here at Tirau!

Kiri was a flight attendant for years, but when COVID hit and she was unable to fly, Kiri took on a temporary role at Tirau. She is now in a permanent role as a Process Assistant at the site.

(L-R) Dylan, Kiri, baby Jacob, Chrissie, Dennis

Following in our footsteps, Kiri met Dylan, a Reliability Engineer, on site….and before long, they were the happy couple! 

Kiri and Dylan now have a two-and-a-half-year-old son (our grandson!) named Jacob, completing three generations at Tirau. 

Working with multiple generations is pretty cool, we’re all in different departments, so arranging leave for family holidays is easy. 

It’s such a family focussed site and continues to provide an environment where work life balance is valued. We have had many family holidays, overseas and at Waihi beach, and continue to have trips together which is just wonderful.

When he’s not working, Dennis enjoys playing golf, watching the races, and works tirelessly around our section. My favourite place is Waihi with our family and friends – I’m also a big fan of happy hour any place, any time!