Expressions of Interest for a third intake in 2023 should register here.

Workshop dates:
WS1:     4 - 6th May 2023 (Thurs-Sat)
WS2:    12 - 14th October 2023 (Thurs-Sat)
WS3:    2 - 4th May 2024 (Thurs-Sat)

The New Zealand Olympic Committee launched their Wahine Toa Leadership Programme in 2017 (preivously referred to as WSLA) to support NZ Team's female athletes make a positive transition from sport performance to sport leadership and connect to an international network of women leaders in sport.

The Graduates of the Programme can be found here 2019-2020 Graduates, 2017-2018 Graduates

(i)   Content of the Programme
(ii)  Principles behind the Academy
(iii) Programme Elements and Special Projects

The first intake of the NZ Olympic Women’s Leadership Programme brought together 18 female Olympians in 2017. This was followed by a second intake of 19 female Olympians for the 2019-2020 Programme.

The programme provides a unique learning environment that supports the women to further develop their confidence and leadership competencies held over four workshops.  Due to the success and interest in the progamme, the NZOC is delighted to be calling for Expressions of Interest for a third intake in 2023. Female Olympians, Paralympians and Commonwealth Games athletes can enquire by registering here.

The Programme is part of an international network that has been delivering programmes since 2014 with more than 230 women graduates from 42 countries now members of the global network of female leaders in sport. 


By the end of the programme the women will have:

  • Further developed confidence and competence in a range of leadership behaviours
  • Produced a Personal Development Plan with clear goals
  • Developed career strategies
  • Participated in regular networking
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Access to mentoring
  • Better knowledge and understanding of the women and sport movement in NZ and globally

Who is Wahine Toa Leadership Programme aimed at?

Applicants for the programme are retired or retiring female athletes who:

  • have attended an Olympic, Paralympic or Commonwealth Games
  • are identified as current or aspiring leaders in their organisations with a commitment to pursue a leadership pathway
  • are committed to making a difference and enhancing opportunities for women and girls in and through sport
  • demonstrate a commitment to continuous professional development

Content of the Programme

The content of the programme focuses on various leadership behaviours or competencies that research shows to be critical to a great leader:

Providing direction
Providing future direction for an organisation using resources efficiently and effectively to achieve the goals of the organisation

Creativity and innovation
Enabling creativity to flourish in people in how they analyse problems and identify opportunities for innovative solutions.

Performance management
Ensuring there is a culture of continuous personal improvement which supports people to maximise their potential while achieving goals and targets that meet the needs of the business.

Planning and taking responsibility for your own success; managing your own emotions in challenging circumstances.

Communication, team and partnership working
Ensuring that messages are understood by any audience; working effectively with internal and external people to ensure that the needs of the business are met.

Principles behind the Programme

We know that investing in women is of the utmost importance and that time and money spent in learning and development has to pay off. We fully recognise that changes in behaviour have to be embedded and sustained over time and ensuring that individuals take responsibility for their own self-sustained learning is at the heart of everything we do.

The following principles will guide all the activities:

  • The programme will be facilitative rather than prescriptive allowing the women to focus on self-sustained learning
  • Participants will be supported to take ownership of, and responsibility for, their own learning
  • We will create a safe working environment and nurture a sense of collegiality and trust among the women
  • We will develop a set of shared values to encourage reciprocity, mutuality and respect for differences and diversity
  • We believe that a flexible approach to meet the diverse needs of specific groups, individuals, and cultures is essential
  • We draw on a variety of theories, ideas, opinions, and approaches in order to develop learning that ‘sticks’ and are innovative and creative in our approach
  • The activities will be learner-centred and highly participative using discussion, small/syndicate groups, role plays and scenarios/case studies
  • Evaluation of the Wahine Toa Leadership Programme will take place throughout the programme and will continue post-event, when the participants have returned to their work place

Programme Elements

The 13 month programme consists of a number of elements all of which are essential for the critical learning and development.

Residential Workshops
Workshops are an integral part of the learning process and will be designed to meet the needs of the learners. Each workshop provides clear learning outcomes and is tailored to maximise learning; they are challenging, constructive and highly interactive. Workshop dates are set well in advance and include four two-day sessions; attendance at all workshops and events is critical to maximise learning.

Personal Development Plans
The participants develop their own Personal Development Plan setting goals on leadership behaviours, career strategies, future opportunities and to consolidate learning. Mentors will assist the women to revise their Personal Development Plans and help them monitor their progress.

Mentoring is a vital element allowing the participants to learn from their mentor's experiences, have a sounding board and to gain additional support to achieve their goals. Each participant will build a strong relationship with one generic Mentor and other technical mentors may be used as required.

Peer support groups

This element focuses on peer support and providing opportunities for the women to define, frame and communicate their key challenges and receive support from their colleagues. The sessions allow the women to have time to reflect on their experiences and to explore ways of doings things differently.

Physical activities
A range of physical activities will be designed to indulge our love of sport, to live our principle of an active lifestyle, to provide a physical challenge, to promote team-building, and have fun!

Guest speakers
Guest speakers attend various programme workshops to inspire the women and share their experiences. They will identify what leadership means to them, what motivates and challenges them and will provide top tips for the women

Membership of a New Zealand network of Wahine Toa Leadership Alumni and other women leaders in sport.

Special Projects

The Programme participants work in small groups outside of the formal sessions to further enhance their learning on Special Project Areas. 

The projects are substantive and of direct relevance to the sector, and particularly issues relating to women in sport. The projects have been designed for maximum learning on several levels including working as a team and individually.  

A Special Project Advisor is appointed to each group, bringing knowledge and expertise in the area, and to ask challenging questions of the individuals and group.

The programme's graduates Special Projects can be found HERE

Wahine Toa Programme Contact details:
Cathleen Bias
Phone: 021-905-396