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Youth to take centre stage as IWG’s World Conference comes to NZ

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  • The founder of Lazy Sneakers, 17-year-old Maia Mariner (Ngai Tai, Samoa), is the youngest speaker to ever present at IWG’s global conference since it was first staged in 1994. Mariner joins Arizona Leger as a speaker on Day 4.
  • Whanake o te Kōpara, a leadership programme for women aged 19-25, is registered to participate.
  • Māori Scholarship recipients as young as 16 will be participating.
  • Emerging leaders from the New Zealand sector will present their insights as part of the 4-day programme.

At 12, she launched a movement that has connected nearly 10,000 needy feet with 10,000 unneeded sneakers. Now, still, just 17, basketballer and social change leader Maia Mariner is about to add to an already ridiculously impressive legacy – by becoming the youngest ever speaker at a major global conference.

To be held in Auckland next month, the IWG’s four-yearly global event will host delegates from over 60 countries as it tackles the issues surrounding gender equity and equality in sport.

Led by Mariner and the equally impressive Arizona Leger, the New Zealand iteration of IWG – the eighth since the movement was founded in 1994 – will be lit up by some of the brightest young leaders in Aotearoa.

“I’m excited and humbled to be part of this call to action,” Mariner says. “So many amazing Wāhine Toa (esteemed women) in one place, sharing their stories and wisdom so we can be empowered to amplify our voices. I’m looking forward to the experience!”

The IWG is committed to the next generation of change-makers and leaders that will advance gender equality and transform the sports sector globally, says IWG New Zealand General Secretary & Women in Sport Aotearoa CEO, Rachel Froggatt.

“Maia and Arizona’s inclusion in the conference is about paving the way and providing a platform for the next generation of leaders and champions of the movement,” says Froggatt

“We are fortunate in Aotearoa to be surrounded by a new generation that is hungry for change. Their voices and ideas must be heard, and it’s fantastic that we can enable this through the IWG and at the conference next month.”

IWG will deliver one of its most extensive programmes to date in Auckland, with over 220 sessions already confirmed.

The four-yearly event brings together leaders in the global sector, including members of the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth movements, advocacy groups, sports organisations, and government officials.

Mariner is set to be the youngest speaker at an IWG World Conference since it was first staged in Brighton in 1994.

As a 12-year-old she founded Lazy Sneakers, a sneaker bank project collecting reusable sneakers from the community for free distribution to young people and whānau (families) to allow them to play, participate and reach their potential in sports.

Now in her final year of high school at Queen Margaret College in Wellington, New Zealand, Mariner has achieved her goal of acquiring and distributing nearly 10,000 pairs of shoes, establishing a network that spans New Zealand and Australia.

Mariner will share the stage with Leger (27), who IWG announced last week as its Kaikorero Matamua (Featured Speaker) on Day 4.

The IWG New Zealand Secretariat, Women in Sport Aotearoa Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA), have been developing and nurturing young female leaders through its Young Leaders programme – Whanake o te Kōpara – which is now in its second year.

The programme is delivered in collaboration with The Shift Foundation and brings together individuals aged between 19-25 to help them discover their values, passions and strengths and learn the process of exercising leadership. Thanks to the support of Sanitarium, 20 of these leaders will be participating in IWG2022.

Furthermore, WISPA (Women In Sport Aotearoa) has also been able to provide opportunities for indigenous women and girls from across Aotearoa, New Zealand, to take part in the conference. The youngest scholarship recipients are just 16 years old.

“We’re urging organisations, schools, sports clubs and the global sports sector to identify and support its young leaders to be part of IWG2022,” says Froggatt.

“There’s still time to register and be a part of this important event.”

Hybrid and Virtual only passes are available, or groups can Register a Delegation now.

Confirmed young and emerging leaders delegations include the NXT Gen Network, Whanake o Te Kōpara and First Nation/Indigenous Māori Scholarship Recipients.

Media Enquiries
Diana Dobson
M: +64 21 222 0145

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