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New Horizons for Women: Hine Kahukura

1992 –

This essay written by Debbie Gee was published online in Women together: a history of women's organisations in New Zealand in 2019.

The vision of New Horizons for Women: Hine Kahukura (NHW:HK) – to inspire women to new horizons through education and research – had its roots in the 1975 Women’s Convention. Ideas formed there started taking shape in the late 1980s, when three separate new strands raised by women’s groups began to be woven together.

First, Business and Professional Women in Wellington (BPW Wellington) came up with the idea of a women’s trust for educational awards, following the death of their member Rita King MBE, a passionate advocate for equal pay and work opportunities for women. BPW Wellington proposed establishing a capital fund for her commemorative awards.

Then in 1989, led by Minister of Women’s Affairs Hon. (later Dame) Margaret Shields, some convenors from the 1975 United Women’s Convention celebration organising group explored the idea of funding awards for second-chance education. Also in 1989, the Wellington branch of the Society for Research on Women (SROW) convened a sub-committee to prepare a proposal for the continuation of research of benefit to women. They recommended that a trust for women’s research be set up.

Michelle Gerrard received the Jack Ilott Second Chance Education Award, sponsored by the John Ilott Charitable Trust, for 2018. A sole parent with three children, Michelle was training to be a nurse. In her post-award report, she wrote:

'Study went really well this year. I got B+ averages for the assignment part of my studies and A+ on all pathophysiology exams, achieving top of the class in this area (which I am so very proud of) ... Receiving this New Horizons for Women Trust: Hine Kahukura award gave me not only a monetary boost but a confidence boost. It is the first time in a long time that I have had someone believe in me. I have worked very hard my whole life and have never received any recognition for it, so to receive this was spiritually empowering. I can’t thank you enough. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to attend [my nursing] placement, I wouldn’t have experienced what I have and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to really make a difference.'

A milestone was reached on 29 January 1990, when Margaret Shields, connected to both the 1975 UN Convention group and SROW, wrote to BPW Wellington suggesting that the interests of all three groups be aligned. Later that year, at the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the 1975 Women’s Convention, Margaret Shields and Judith Aitken (the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs) floated the idea of women of achievement assisting women who had not been able to realise their further education and employment goals.

Women from each of the three groups first met in March 1991 and affirmed their common interests in working together. Pam Fuller and Elizabeth Orr from SROW, Margaret Shields from the 1975 UN Convention group, and Monica Hissink, Jim Conder, Dorothy Jamieson and Ann Temple from BPW Wellington decided to combine SROW’s research proposal with the focus of the 1975 Convention group and BPW on second-chance training, including a number of awards named in memory of Rita King. They chose the working title ‘Women’s Trust’. The first awards would be made in 1993 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage.

At the next meeting, the initial objectives of the trust were established: to raise and manage funds to provide awards to a woman or group of women to undertake research likely to be of benefit to women; and to assist a woman or women, over the age of 25, to undertake or complete training, education or an activity likely to enhance her life or employment opportunities.

The name New Horizons for Women was suggested by Dorothy Jamieson. A constitution was drawn up, and the fledgling trust was formally launched on 24 February 1992, with Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard as its patron. Valerie Rhodes from BPW New Zealand agreed to take on the role of trust chair for three months – and ended up holding it for nine years. At her suggestion, the constitution was subsequently changed to limit the chair’s term to three years.

SROW donated $2000 for the first research award, and the interim trustees worked on raising money to fund a second-chance education award. A further second-chance award was funded by the Rotary Club of Upper Hutt. The first award ceremony took place in May 1993 in the Wellington City Council Chambers.  

Over the years the trust expanded its range of awards and began holding award ceremonies in various locations around the country. Funds were accumulated through donations, legacies, sponsorship, and events.

The largest such event was Wellington’s annual Second Chance Preloved Fashion Sale, first held in 2005. A separate charitable organisation, the Second Chance Group, was formed specifically to raise funds for the trust through this eagerly anticipated sale. They developed a network of volunteers and supporting companies to collect, sort and prepare quality clothes and jewellery, raising enough money each year to cover between two and four second-chance education awards. From 2016, these included one for a woman with experience of being a refugee.

In 2016, as part of its rebranding, the trust sought a Māori name to reflect its vision and kaupapa. Trustee (and subsequent Chair) Jenni Tupu, in consultation with her mother, the late Pirihira Hohepa, sought advice from Dr Valance Smith of AUT, who suggested ‘Hine Kahukura’. Kahukura are the feathers that enable a bird to fly. The more feathers, the stronger the flight and the greater the heights achieved – a fitting metaphor for financial support helping the award-winning wāhine (women) follow their dreams and their journeys, and seek new horizons.

New Horizons for Women meeting
Co-chairs Jenni Tupu (left) and Eva Hartshorn-Sanders (right) with patron Dame Silvia Cartwright at the New Horizons for Women: Hine Kahukura Trust AGM in 2017.

In 2018, 42 women received awards. These included Second Chance Education Awards for women engaging in tertiary education for the first time; Research Awards for women conducting research to benefit women and/or girls in Aotearoa New Zealand; and a wide range of Specific Purpose Awards. The largest of the latter was the Ria McBride Public Service Management Award for $15,000, to help a woman public servant who had not previously undertaken academic study advance to higher levels of responsibility in the public service through professional development. [1]

Debbie Gee


[1] Ria McBride was the first woman appointed Chief Clerk of the Public Service Commission; after retiring in 1970, she became a founder member of the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women, and later one of the first full-time Human Rights Commissioners. Other women commemorated in Special Purpose Awards included Sonja Davies, Teupoko'ina Utanga Morgan, and Jeanette Scott.

Further sources

New Horizons for Women: Hine Kahukura website: