window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-HR5P9HS5VG');

Successful Pilot Pacific Women’s Leadership Programme

Share this article

The inaugural Pacific Women’s Leadership Programme has concluded this month in Tāmaki Makaurau. WISPA and Pasifika SiS: Sisters in Sport partnered together with our funding partners the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the U.S. Department of State to run a three-week leadership development programme for 10 emerging female leaders from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands to support them through mentorship and cultural exchange.

The programme was structured to begin with the first week consisting of talanoa/whakawhanaungatanga, and various workshops from both WISPA and Pasifika SiS leaders and other wāhine toa from the sport and recreation industry in Aotearoa. Topics covered included personal ways of exercising leadership, understanding intersectionality and its implications on leadership, human-centred design approaches and the significance of the tapa framework and discussions centred on the intricate landscape of Pasifika indigenous leadership models and frameworks.

We also heard from leaders including Arizona Ledger covering Pasifika storytelling through social media, Karla Matua, AKTIVE’s Kaiwhakahaere, He Oranga Poutama on the use of traditions and culture in sport and recreation, plus past Global Sports Mentoring Programme Alumni including sports broadcaster Melodie Robinson, our own WISPA co-founder Julie Paterson, Shift Foundation founder, Fran McEwen, Vania Wolfgramm from NZ Rugby and Katie Owen from Recreation Aotearoa. The wāhine also spent an afternoon at Dressed in Confidence, learning about self-love through embracing and celebrating who they are as individuals as well as being part of an aiga/community.

For the next 8 days, the wāhine were hosted by mentor organisations that immersed them into their organisational work programmes, culture and team environments. Seven host organisations were onboard including Sport New Zealand, High Performance Sport New Zealand, Harbour Sport, Sport Waitakere, Rugby New Zealand, Tennis New Zealand and the Warriors Community Foundation.

The wāhine were exposed to a wide range of programmes, workshops and experiences that assisted them with their specific goals and plans for their return home, including attending the Sport NZ Disability Hui, a high performance coaching course, a workshop on developing a Pacific wellbeing strategy, attending the Sky commentary box at an NPC game, visiting TVNZ, plus various meetings with Probation, Cause Collection, Waka Ama and Pasifika networks in the community.

The host mentors then provided dedicated time supporting their mentees with the creation of an ‘action plan’ for implementation in their home nations. The group then reconvened together on the final two days of the programme, to share reflections and to present to the group their action plans. All 10 action plans were thoroughly thought out, with clear goals, budgets and steps needed to see their projects come to life communicated to the group including their host mentors. Just some of the plans included increasing female participation in rugby, connecting Waka Ama to culture to increase female participation, creating basketball leagues for girls and women, and improving the visibility of disabled community members through sport. These plans will be kick-started with a grant from WISPA for each participant to apply for.

WISPA is proud to have watched the individual journeys of these 10 wāhine toa and to see their connections with each other grow over the three weeks. The group have formed their own leadership team together now in the Pacific and will support each other to implement their projects going forward. Research has been undertaken by Elika Consulting Group and will continue, with plans for WISPA to visit each of the participants in their home countries to report on the implementation of their action plans.

We look forward to following the journeys of our inaugural cohort of the 2023 Pacific Leadership Programme and planning is underway to obtain further funding to continue the programme in future years.

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