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Te Manahua New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership Programme (NZUWiL)

Te Manahua New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership Programme | Developing women leaders in the university sector

Are you a potential leader?

The Te Manahua New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership Programme (NZUWiL) exists to support, encourage and contribute to the development of women who are, or aspire to be, leaders within the university sector. Our goal is to increase women’s leadership capabilities and influence by enhancing their personal, professional and national-level skills and networks. This nationwide programme is endorsed by Universities New Zealand and developed by a steering group of experienced academic and senior women leaders. The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor General of New Zealand, is our Patron.

Initial seed funding to set up the programme was provided by the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust, named in recognition of Kate Milligan Edger (1857-1935), the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in the British Empire. Each programme participant is funded by their university.

We offer two, five-day residential Te Manahua NZ Universities Women in Leadership programmes per annum. The first—for women in academic positions—in June and the second—for women in professional staff roles—in August.

We also offer a Discipline Pod Programme for academic women employed at a one of the eight NZ universities who are earlier in their academic career and from disciplines with particular equity and/or human capital challenges. The first pilot programme was held in 2017 and a further two programmes, for different discipline pod groupings, in 2018 and 2020.

For more information on the programme, purpose, focus, background and model see our booklet - New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership Programme: Diversity in Leadership, promoting better sector performance. There is also an infographic highlighting 12 years of achievements, a summary of an independent programme review conducted in 2019 by Lumin, and background information on our Te Manahua NZUWiL logo and Māori name.

Who can attend the Te Manahua NZ Universities Women in Leadership courses?

This programme is for women employed by one of New Zealand's eight universities. Each New Zealand university is responsible for selecting and funding at least two nominees for each Te Manahua NZUWiL programme. University women interested in applying should get in touch with their university key contact person, listed below.

We provide programmes for two related target groups for our 5-day residential programme:

  • women in, or aspiring to, senior leadership positions in academia such as professors, associate professors, Heads of School or Departments, Associate Deans, Chairs of major university committees, or principal investigators on major research projects

  • women in, or aspiring to, senior administrative leadership positions. This includes those with responsibility for budget and people, including directors or managers of student administration, facilities management, student services, communications and marketing, student recruitment, human resources, international, legal, library, faculty registrars and school managers from large schools.

Diversity and Inclusion: The programme is committed to encouraging diversity and inclusion, so we welcome people from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We are particularly keen to assist women from under-represented groups, such as women in science and engineering, or Māori and Pasifika women and women from a range of minority ethnic communities e.g. Asian, Indian, African…to participate in the Te Manahua NZUWiL programme.

In 2011 the Steering Group established two partially funded Te Manahua NZUWiL Scholarships for Māori and Pasifika women for our 5-day residential programmes. The universities are invited to select and submit their nominations for these scholarship places in addition to the two nominations already sought. Information can be provided by the university key contact person. To date we have awarded 43 scholarships and have seen an increase in the overall diversity of our participant groups.

Our discipline pod programme, held over three days, is designed for women at lecturer and senior lecturer levels with a completed doctorate who are academic staff members from the targeted discipline group. We will consider nominations from women in roles such as post doctorate research, research fellows and senior tutors working in the target disciplines, however priority will be permanent, tenured academics. All discipline pod nominees need to be endorsed and funded by their Dean and Head of Department i.e. home department and/or faculty. 

What do our programmes involve?

We run two 5-day intensive, interactive residential programmes, designed to stimulate, engage and boost the skills, leadership capacity and capability of women who attend. Those selected gain a great deal, and in return are expected to fully participate throughout the programme, including completing some pre-work. They should also be willing to host follow-up activities at their university and/or school/department. We want to build strong networks of women within tertiary institutions so that women leaders are supported, recognised and valued.

To see what is included in the programmes, see the 2021 programme for academic women and the 2019 programme for women in professional positions. Note: Due to the impact of the global pandemic we deferred our 2020 programmes to 2021.

The discipline pod programme for academic women, earlier in their career, runs over three days and provides an opportunity for participants to build on their network and also join the national network of Te Manahua NZUWiL women from a range of disciplines and also to increase women’s academic identity and influence within their institutions and their discipline.

To see what was included in the Discipline Pod NZUWiL programmes, see the 2020 discipline pod programme and the 2018 discipline pod programme. Preparation is underway for a further discipline pod programme to be held in February 2022.

What do women gain from attending the programme?

The benefits are many. Some are personal gains; others help your university and wider environment as well. Women who have attended tell us the benefits included:

  • successful promotion to a more senior leadership role after attending
  • increasing the pool of women in senior leadership and management positions
  • women leaders who become more confident and visible. Participants have successfully increased their public profile after implementing skills gained on the programme
  • better gender balance in senior roles within universities, something Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara is committed to achieving
  • stronger networks between women, both within universities and nationally. Participants have gone on to collaborate on research or producing papers
  • greater leadership skills for women attending, whether in research, teaching or administration
  • a better environment in universities and tertiary organisations, through more women leaders who are strong, capable and confident.

What kind of women attend the programmes?

Women from a wide variety of disciplines, backgrounds, ages and geographical areas have attended the 5-day Te Manahua NZUWiL residential courses. Read the profiles of some participants from previous programmes. So far, 513 women have attended the courses; 278 academic women and 235 professional staff. All of New Zealand’s 8 universities have sent participants.

The Discipline Pod programme is run over three days for different discipline pod groupings for academic women employed as senior lecturers and lecturers. Read the profiles of some of the participants from previous discipline pod programmes. So far 55 academic women from all 8 New Zealand universities have attended this course. Disciplines have included Mathematics, Statistics, Accounting, Finance, Geology, Geography, Information Systems, Engineering, Environmental Sciences and Computer Science.

What results have the programmes achieved?

  • A Te Manahua NZUWiL Infographic summarising 12+ years of achievements is here.

  • A group of Te Manahua NZUWiL Alumnae have funding and senior leadership support for further 2-day symposiums held biennially and hosted in Wellington, Dunedin, Auckland and Christchurch. Waikato alumnae hosted an on-line symposium from Hamilton over two days in 2020 and co-hosted a session with the Australian WATTLE Women in Leadership Group.

  • Te Manahua NZUWiL Alumnae, in liaison with the Steering Group, have hosted regional based half day alumnae roadshows.

  • Collaboration on new leadership programme initiatives based on our programme model and material with the Australian WATTLE Women in Leadership Steering Group and with the Universities NZ Te Kahui Amokura on the proposal for a pilot Māori Academic Development Programme.

  • A group of Te Manahua NZUWiL alumnae produced a pan-University research paper on women's experience in academia titled Learning to Be Leaders in Higher Education: What Helps or Hinders Women's Advancement as Leaders in Universities [DOI Reference:10.1177/1741143210383896];

  • Otago members of the Te Manahua NZUWiL Alumnea have produced a paper on the 'gender pay gap' which was presented at the inaugural Te Manahua NZUWiL Alumnae Conference in Auckland;

  • Anecdotal feedback tells us the Te Manahua NZUWiL programme helped alumnae to achieve promotion to a more senior leadership role or to lead a significant project, research or university initiative; and

  • Many Te Manahua NZUWiL participants have increased their media profile and/or been invited to speak on issues due to their increased confidence in their expertise and role as an academic or professional staff member which they gained from the Te Manahua NZUWiL programme.

Te Manahua NZ Women in Leadership video profiles

Nine women in positions of leadership at New Zealand universities, who partipated in a Te Manahua NZUWiL programme, have been interviewed about their experiences and perspectives on what leadership means to them. View the videos at Universities New Zealand's YouTube channel.

Those interviewed are Tracy Huntleigh-Smith (University of Otago), Elizabeth Aitken Rose (University of Auckland), Deanna Riach (formerly Massey University), Claire Robinson (Massey University), Carol Smith (Lincoln University), Anna Brown (Massey University), Hayley Schnell (formerly University of Auckland) and Margaret Hyland (formerly University of Auckland), Kate McGrath (formerly Victoria University of Wellington) and Sonia Mazey (University of Canterbury).

Te Manahua NZUWiL Steering Group (as at July 2021)


Professor Candice Harris, Head of Department, Management, Auckland University of Technology and NZUWiL Alumna

Annemarie de Castro, Director Human Resources, Victoria University of Wellington


  • Annemarie de Castro, Victoria University of Wellington

  • Professor Candice Harris, AUT University – NZUWiL Alumna

  • Professor Sonia Mazey, University of Canterbury – NZUWiL Alumna

  • Margaret Morgan, University of Otago – NZUWiL Alumna

  • Hanlie du Plessis, University of Waikato

  • Associate Professor Kim Dirks, University of Auckland – NZUWiL Alumna

  • Dr Mele Taumoepeau, University of Otago – NZUWiL Alumna

  • Professor Clemency Montelle, University of Canterbury – NZUWiL Alumna

    Te Manahua NZUWiL Advisors:

      • Dr Dianne McCarthy, Managing Director, DCM Solutions Limited
      • Professor Judy McGregor, Associate Dean – Research, Faculty Culture & Society, AUT University
      • Professor Sarah Leberman, School of Management, Massey University
      • Professor Gill Dobbie, Computer Science, University of Auckland - NZUWiL Alumni
        • Key University Contacts (June 2021)

        • University of Auckland - Organisational Development Practice Lead - Karen Davies

        • Auckland University of Technology, Director Talent and Culture - Kate Birch

        • University of Waikato, Director Human Resources & Employment Relations - Hanlie du Plessis

        • Massey University, Executive Assistant to HR Director - Coralie Weller

        • Victoria University of Wellington, Director, Human Resources - Annemarie de Castro

        • University of Canterbury, Director – People and Culture - Amanda Derry

        • Lincoln University, Director Human Resources - Karen McEwan

        • University of Otago, Head of Operational Development - Denise Lindsay


    Contact Universities New Zealand

    Sarah SchulzTe Manahua NZUWiL Programme Convenor


    Updated 1 July 2021