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First Nation initiatives announced for the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport

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Two major initiatives to increase participation by First Nations women at the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport.

  • 50 Indigenous scholarships now available for wāhine and kōhine Māori
  • Indigenous-specific off-site to be hosted at Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei
  • Call to action to countries worldwide to register Indigenous Delegations

Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa, (WISPA) – the current IWG Secretariat – has today announced two major initiatives to increase participation by First Nations women at the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Online this November. WISPA is also sending out a call to action worldwide, to encourage other countries to involve First Nations peoples in the event.

From today, applications open for 50 scholarships for wāhine and kōhine Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Australian and Canadian High Commissions have also engaged and intend to register a further 10 First Nations participants from each country in a similar scholarship programme.

WISPA is also pleased to announce that an Indigenous off-site at the famous Ōrākei Marae has now been confirmed on Day 3 of the conference, restricted to First Nations peoples only. Participants in this off-site will work to bring back key insights and actions to share with the wider conference.

The announcement is a natural extension of WISPA’s ongoing commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand, and WISPA’s work to build the conference on a foundation provided by tikanga Māori. Māori cultural practices are infused across every aspect of the event, most notably through its alignment to Matariki – the scared kāhui whetū (star cluster). In Māori culture, Matariki brings good fortune, positive change and prosperity through new beginnings.

He Wāhine Toa Kei Te Kokiri, WISPA’s rōpū (Indigenous Māori advisory group) has been leading the integration of tikanga Māori across all event design, delivery and ceremonial aspects and has ensured the full inclusion of an Indigenous Māori perspective across the IWG World Conference programming.

He Wāhine Toa Kei Te Kokiri Chair, Pam Elgar ONZM, said: “Māori culture is an integral part of life here in Aotearoa New Zealand. It was only natural for us to express this in the IWG programme, and you can also see it in various forms elsewhere. The Harakeke (flax) weave-like pattern is part of our brand, and the reo (language) and alignment to Matariki play a major role in guiding the participant experiences.”

Over 220+ sessions and nearly 500 international presenters make up the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport core programme. Dr Farah Palmer (Massey University), Sarai Bareman (FIFA), Arizona Leger (Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021), Honey Hireme-Smiler MNZM (Halberg Foundation) and Dr Jeremy Hapeta (Waikato University) are amongst those who will provide Indigenous Māori perspectives.

The IWG is excited by the prospect of bringing together other Indigenous representatives from around the globe to advance strategies and development for Indigenous peoples in sport and physical activity.

First Nations Scholarships – applications open now, close Sunday 28 August 2022

A total of 50 scholarships covering registration costs are now available for wāhine and kōhine Māori, thanks to Indigenous scholarships enabled by a partnership between Barfoot & Thompson, WISPA Co-Chair Sarah Leberman MNZM and He Wāhine Toa Kei te Kokiri.

Managing Director at Barfoot & Thompson, Peter Thompson said: “Barfoot & Thompson are proud to be supporting this IWG Indigenous kaupapa. Supporting women in sport is very important to us as it reinforces their status in the community and seeing women from different ethnicities play with and against each other helps create strong communities.

Whilst many businesses support men’s competitions, we have taken on board to represent our people equally and that includes both men’s and women’s sporting competitions. From a real estate perspective, many of our house buyers and sellers are women and it’s important we get our message of support across to these prospective people by celebrating women in these conferences. Our congratulations to all those attending and also to Women in Sport Aotearoa.”

The Australian and Canadian High Commissions are also supporting the initiative by funding scholarships from their own countries to enable Indigenous peoples to attend. Both are now working with WISPA to bring Indigenous delegations to the event. WISPA is reaching out to all other High Commissions in Aotearoa New Zealand in the hopes this will inspire similar delegations from other countries worldwide.

From today, He Wāhine Toa Kei Te Kokiri will be working with several Māori partner organisations, including Māori Women’s Development Incorporated (MWDI), Māori Women’s Welfare League (MWWL) and iwi partner Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, to promote the scholarship opportunity with IWG.

Applications are now open and will close on Wednesday 27 July 2022. Apply here

First Nations Off-site – registrations open in September 2022

In addition to participating in the core programme, First Nations participants from around the world can now attend their own strategic off-site to be hosted at the famous Ōrākei Marae, on Bastion Point overlooking the beautiful Waitematā Harbour. The Marae (Māori meeting house) is the epicentre of life for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the iwi for Tamaki Makaurau Auckland and a WISPA partner since 2018.

Restricted to self-identified First Nations peoples only, the Indigenous delegation from Canada and from Australia have already confirmed their attendance. The purpose will be to workshop and debate the unique challenges First Nations women and girls face in sport and physical activity. They will return to the main conference to share key actions for all global participants to take home and action.

The Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) said: “We are extremely excited to be bringing a delegation of Indigenous women from across Canada to the 8th IWG World Conference in Aotearoa, New Zealand in November. For over 25 years, the ASC has worked to ensure more equity, access and safety in sport, physical activity and recreation for Indigenous people in Canada.

The IWG World Conference, with its bi-cultural approach, Indigenous-focused sessions, and off-site cultural exchange will provide an unprecedented opportunity to observe, listen, learn and share through the dual perspective of women and Indigeneity in sport. We applaud the organisers on designing such an inclusive—and thereby compelling—approach to conference design and cannot wait to take part!”

Registrations for the off-site session will open in September and will only be available for First Nations participants registered to attend the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport.

For more information on the programme and conference updates, visit 

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