Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Women leaders from Auckland sport and recreation sector benefit from Aktive initiative

Women leaders from Auckland sport and recreation sector benefit from Aktive initiative
April 13, 2021

A new initiative - Aktive’s Women’s Leadership Development Programme (WLDP) – recently brought together a diverse group of 24 current and emerging women leaders from Auckland’s sport and recreation sector with the 2021 WLDP participants hailing from a diverse range of organisations including Blind Sport New Zealand, NZ Rugby Union, Women in Sport Aotearoa and Yachting New Zealand.

The 18-month programme began with a two-day workshop at AUT Millennium on Auckland’s North Shore. The WLDP provides an opportunity and environment for learning that supports women to further develop their confidence and leadership competencies and step up and make an impact in the sport and recreation sector.

Aktive Chief Executive, Dr Sarah Sandley opened proceedings and noted "It’s incredible to see these brilliant women who are going to benefit from this unique opportunity. This will challenge them and build their confidence so they can amplify their leadership and increase their impact and influence in the sector."

Sarah Cowley-Ross, a WLDP facilitator describes the programme as being created to "increase the number of women in leadership positions and work collectively to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in sports and recreation."

Dr Sandley adds "The WLDP is going to address a critical issue for women that is often missing for them - social capital, meaning career enhancing networks and high-status mentors. This programme has been structured to give women the confidence and connections to go out into the world to achieve more."

WLDP lead and facilitator Simone Spencer echoed this, talking of her own experience "I competed in athletics and surf lifesaving and never saw a woman in any position of leadership beyond being the club secretary or administrator. I would love to see more opportunities be available for women so they can build their confidence and networks, enabling them to be the best version of themselves in whatever way they want to participate in sport and recreation."

Alysha Jensen, Netball NZ, reflects on her experience of the first two WLDP workshops "I got real value out of the networking with all the experienced women from around Auckland. It really felt like we were developing a supportive sisterhood in sport which really helped with building my confidence. I loved having the space and time to reflect on my own leadership behaviours and what I can take back to put into practice in my own workplace."

Another participant, Nicole Terrill, Bruce Pulman Park said " I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Women’s Leadership Development Programme. Having the opportunity to be in a room with like-minded women was incredibly refreshing and really positive. The facilitators were inspiring and relatable, and I’m looking forward to what the next 18 months brings."

2021 WLDP participants

Alysha Jensen National Programmes Manager Netball New Zealand

Amanda Cox General Manager & Board Member WeAreTenzing & Auckland Rugby Union

Bernie Tovio Community Sport Manager CLM Community Sport

Casey Flint Education & Programmes Manager Blind Sport New Zealand

Gayle Vaughan Coach Development Manager Tennis New Zealand

Heidi Wilde Funding and Partnership Manager Paralympics New Zealand

Jessica Baker Sports Team Leader The University of Auckland

Karla Matua Kaiwhakahaere Aktive

Karyne Ross Community Netball Manager Netball Northern Zone

Kirsten Spencer Associate Professor in Sport Coaching and Performance Analysis Auckland University of Technology

Leah Marelic Senior Cricket Administrator Auckland Cricket

Leilani Fuemana Aquatic Educator Drowning Prevention Auckland

Lisa Walker Acting General Manager - Archery NZ Archery NZ

Liz McKinnon Talent & Coach Development Officer Golf New Zealand

Maddi McLean Board member at The Shift Foundation and Participation Programmes Coordinator at Golf New Zealand The Shift Foundation & Golf New Zealand

Nicky van den Bos Programme Director Women in Sport Aotearoa

Nicola Post Schools and Clubs Development Officer Franklin Basketball Association

Nicole Terrill Marketing & Sponsorship Manager Bruce Pulman Park

Raynor Haagh National Sport Development Director Yachting New Zealand

Rebecca Annan Partnership Manager for Netball NZ Netball New Zealand

Robyn Neil Finance Director and Board Member Auckland Hockey

Sarah McIlroy Women's Rugby Participation Manager NZ Rugby Union

Sian Clancy General Manager Athlete Services Drug Free Sport New Zealand

Tamara Pereira Junior & Youth Cricket Coordinator Auckland Cricket Association

Programme Team

Kirsten Hellier Facilitator

Sarah Cowley-Ross Facilitator

Hannah McLean Facilitator

Pauline Harrison Facilitator Support

Sophie Parker Admin Support

Simone Spencer Programme Lead & Facilitator

For more information on Aktive go to

Related Articles

11th December 2020 - Aktive launches Auckland sport and recreation Facility Planning Roadmap

5th November 2020 - Aktive advises over $4.2 million of Sport NZ’s community resilience fund allocated across Auckland

21st October 2020 - Aktive announce new board appointments

29th September 2020 - Aktive appoints Manu Pihama as Maori Partnership Manager

20th December 2019 - Aktive hosts inaugural Women’s Networking Event for Auckland sport and recreation sector

21st November 2019 - New Zealand Rugby and Aktive extend Auckland partnership

18th September 2019 - Aktive brings Auckland mayoral candidates together to debate sport and recreation matters

28th May 2019 - Aktive releases results of inaugural survey of organised sport in New Zealand

4th March 2019 - Aktive Auckland the first sporting organisation to receive cultural intelligence tick

7th February 2019 - Auckland’s Aktive awarded Governance Mark for Sport and Recreation

28th January 2019 - Aktive Fund boosts opportunities for target populations in Auckland

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Felton Industries

Felton Industries is Australia’s leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of quality outdoor furniture and has been supplying premium seating solutions for all sporting, commercial, community…

read more

Parks / Play / Recreation / Sport / Venues


Aflex Inflatables

Aflex Inflatables are the leaders for obstacle courses, pool toys, waterparks and land-based watersides and fitness runs. They are industry leaders offering the widest range of pool, lake and beach…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Waterparks


Fun Wheels Pty Ltd

Fun Wheels Pty Ltd are the premium dealer in Australasia for the Dutch company BERG’s commercial and domestic products. Our flagship product is their revolutionary pedal go-kart – the…

read more

Attractions / Tourism / Venues


The P.A. People

The P.A. People is a specialist integrator and contractor in sound reinforcement, audio visual systems, performance lighting and production communications. Over its almost 50 year history the company…

read more

Entertainment / Events / Sport / Technology / Venues



A leading designer and manufacturer of innovative waterslides and attractions, Australian Waterslides and Leisure (AWL) is also able to advise clients in the areas of concept and design, feasibility…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Waterparks



Myzone is the industry’s leading wearable technology solution. Myzone’s wearable products show and reward effort when you work out. It displays accurate real-time heart rate, calories, and…

read more

Fitness / Sport / Technology / Wellness



Commercial Aquatics Australia provides aquatic solutions nationwide and is one of the largest and most experienced companies specialising in the design, construction, renovation, service, maintenance…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks


Pico Play

Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment that deliver extraordinary and memorable experiences to millions…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Design / Recreation / Tourism


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business