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Young Women’s Leadership Programme – Whanake o te Kōpara

Pictured above: Whanake o te Kōpara group of 2021


Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu
Adorn the bird with feathers so it can fly

Whanake: to grow, to develop, to move onwards, move upwards.
Kōpara: the bellbird (especially the female bellbird), known for its strong, clear, liquid songs.

Whanake o te Kōpara is a leadership development programme established for young women aged 18 to 24. Built upon the foundations of co-design and social learning spaces, it aims to amplify the strengths of the individual, enabling them to uplift themselves, their community and the sector that surrounds them.

Whanake o te Kōpara is co-designed with the young women participating to ensure it meets their unique needs. The programme runs for 5-6 months and invites participants from all around Aotearoa, New Zealand. The first programme was delivered in March 2021, with second and third cohorts that finished in 2022 and 2023. 

2024 Applications are now closed. 

Check out our successful applicants and follow their journey on our Instagram

Watch a preview of Whanake o te Kōpara below and read the 2021 | 2022 | 2023 impact reports.

Purpose of Whanake o te Kōpara

Using human-centred leadership frameworks and practices, the programme intentionally focuses on the learning gained through the journey, rather than its outcome. It amplifies the strengths of each individual, enabling them to create change within themselves, throughout their wider community and the sectors they contribute to.

Facilitated and enabled by The Shift Foundation and Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA) this mahi was informed by an identified gap (at the time) in leadership opportunities for young women, particularly in the sport, active recreation and wellbeing sectors.

The programme was designed to address this gap, offering a safe and empowering environment for the participants to begin and build their leadership journey while strengthening their confidence, values and self-belief.

Support Us

If you would like to support the work we are doing with young women in Aotearoa. You can make a donation via our online payment system:


A special thank you to Sport New Zealand, the US Embassy of New Zealand and Sarah Leberman MNZM for funding this mahi, and to TALK Communications for creating the 2021 video and report that captures the magic of this kaupapa.

IWG 2018-2022

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