The Women in Sport Aotearoa Board currently has nine members:


Julie Paterson, Co-Chair & Co-Founder
Chief Executive, Tennis New Zealand

Julie is co-founder and co-chair of Women in Sport Aotearoa, finding the spark of inspiration when attending the espnW Global Sports Mentoring Programme in 2015. Currently CEO of Tennis New Zealand, Julie has had an extensive career as a sports administrator and is one of just a handful of women leading a National Sports Organisation. She was CEO of Netball South and the Southern Steel before moving to Auckland to lead Netball North and the Northern Mystics for five years; guiding the transition from a trans-Tasman netball competition to the domestic ANZ Premiership. Julie is also the Chair of the Auckland Badminton Association. She is a vital and prominent voice of advocacy for women and girls in the New Zealand sporting landscape.

Sarah Leberman, Co-Chair & Co-Founder
Professor, Massey University

The co-founder and co-chair of Women in Sport Aotearoa, Sarah has been involved in sport all her life, both on and off the field. She is a leader in the field of sport management, helping to establish Massey University’s academic programme, and has had tremendous influence through her research into women and leadership in sport and academia. An advocate for facilitating opportunities for girls and women in sport at all levels, Sarah was recognised as NEXT magazine’s women of the year (sport) in 2018 and was a finalist in the 2016 Westpac ’Women of Influence’ awards in the diversity category. With previous board experience at Volleyball New Zealand, Western Netball and Hockey Manawatu, Sarah has also been ‘hands-on’ at the highest level as manager of the Black Sticks women’s hockey team.

Liz Dawson MBE
Director and shareholder of the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise
Independent Director for several prominent sporting organisations

Liz is one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent sports administrators, blazing a trail for women in senior management and governance. Currently also holding board positions with New Zealand Cricket, the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Oceania Olympic Committee and St Kilda Football Club, Liz has played a leading role in many of New Zealand’s major sports organisations and events. She is a director and shareholder of the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise, was part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup bid team and became the first woman to lead an Australian Rugby League club as CEO of the Adelaide Rams. With a focus on conduct, culture, inclusion and diversity, Liz’s immense contribution to sport was recognised in the 2018 New Year’s honours list when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

James Gibson
Chief Executive, Blake NZ

As Chief Executive at Blake NZ, formerly known as the Sir Peter Blake Trust, James leads a team tasked with delivering programmes and experiences in the name of one of our greatest New Zealanders’. In his previous role as Sport NZ’s GM of Partnerships and Communications, James led their work around women in sport as well as managing relationships with the sport sector. He has held senior roles at Air New Zealand where he developed successful partnerships with the Department of Conservation, Antarctica NZ and the Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon, as well as managing the relationship with New Zealand Rugby and several of our leading athletes. James has a keen interest in conservation, and is also a Director of Northern Districts Cricket.

Pauline Harrison
Specialist in executive coaching, strategy and leadership development

A champion of change for many years, Pauline is a specialist in executive coaching, strategy and leadership development. Formerly Chief Executive of England Netball, Pauline is leading the global push for more female coaches in high performance sport through the International Council for Coaching Excellence and also heads the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy programme, dedicated to developing tomorrow’s leaders of sport. She recently guided the first intake of retired New Zealand female Olympians through the programme, connecting them to a global network of over 250 graduates from 40 countries. Pauline is also the co-founder of Females Achieving Brilliance (FAB) in the UK, inspiring and empowering women to be great leaders.

Kirikaiahi Mahutariki
Executive Manager, Māori Financial Solutions, ASB Bank

Sport has shaped Kirikaiahi’s life, and she is eager to drive change so women and girls are valued, visible and influential in sport in Aotearoa New Zealand. Of Te Arawa, Mataatua, Tongareva (Cook Islands) and Tahitian descent, Kirikaiahi is an Executive Manager in the Maori Financial Solutions team at ASB Bank, joining in 2016 after working as a lawyer and tax advisor. A long-time member of the Wellington Rugby League judiciary committee, she also serves on the boards of Volunteer Service Abroad, VSA Foundation and ServiceIQ. Kirikaiahi is an alumnus of Global Women’s breakthrough leader’s programme and a founding member of the Advancement of Māori Opportunity, a values-based leadership programme. 

Nicki Nicol
Chief Operating Officer (COO), New Zealand Rugby (NZR)

From joining NZR in early 2017 as the Chief Financial Officer, Nicki’s role has expanded to reflect a wider organisational focus in the COO role. This role seeks to ensure NZR has the right people, capability, tools and frameworks to support the growth and development of Rugby in NZ. Nicki also has the privilege of leading the implementation of the Respect & Responsibility Review findings from 2017, which seeks to create a more respectful and inclusive culture across all of Rugby in NZ. Nicki returned to Wellington in 2017 after a long tenure in senior executive roles at BP, working in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. With a strong financial background, a qualified Chartered Accountant, Nicki also has extensive experience leading strategic, sales and marketing portfolios.

Martin Snedden
‘One Cricket’ Project Lead, New Zealand Cricket (NZC)
Former Black Cap Cricket player

Martin is a current NZC board member and ‘One Cricket’ project leader, a project which encompasses NZC’s ‘Women in Cricket Governance’ initiative. Martin was a New Zealand men’s cricket team representative through the 1980s and has been, at various times, CEO of NZC, Rugby New Zealand 2011 (which delivered Rugby World Cup 2011), Tourism Industry Association NZ and Duco Events as well as co-leading the creation of Tourism 2025 (an industry-wide strategic framework for the NZ tourism sector) and Destination Auckland 2025 (a destination management framework for the Auckland region). 

Louisa Wall
New Zealand Member of Parliament
Former Black Fern Rugby and Silver Fern Netball player

Louisa (Ngati Tuwharetoa me Waikato) has been a Member of Parliament since 2008 and is currently the MP for Manurewa. She was the driving force behind one of the most significant pieces of legislation in recent years with the passing of the same-sex marriage bill in 2013, and continues to be a global leader and advocate for equality, diversity and universal human rights. Louisa is the Labour Government’s spokesperson for Youth Affairs and associate spokesperson for Sport and Recreation, but first made her name on the sports field. A Silver Fern aged 17; Louisa switched codes and won the 1998 Rugby World Cup with the Black Ferns, having been named New Zealand’s women’s player of the year in the season prior.

IWG 2018-2022

Find out about our leadership work on the global stage

Insight Hub

Gain real insights to help you make a case for change


Catch-up on the latest from our partners at LockerRoom


Read about our work to influence gender equity in sport