Ako Wāhine is a World Rugby accredited programme bringing together women from all aspects of the game for education and development, and has a strong focus on connection and community.
Successful participants are awarded the World Rugby Coach Educator certificate, allowing them to lead learning programmes and assess others as they develop in the sport. The participants are linked on social media group chats, support each other through their development journey and re-connect on a regular basis to keep the learning and relationships going.
We know that an environment tailored specifically to women makes a big difference to the learning, connection and development outcomes, and with more and more women stepping up to become future leaders of the sport, Ako Wāhine is setting a benchmark of how things can be done. The goal of Ako Wāhine is to build a network of confident women who have strengthened their capabilities within rugby both professionally and personally.
The programme is the brainchild of former Black Fern and New Zealand Rugby Women’s Rugby Game Development Manager Vania Wolfgramm and has been run around the country since its inception in 2019, with alumna going on to feature as facilitators for future sessions. Workshops have been run in the Northern and Southern regions, with a COVID-delayed Central region programme happening in 2022.
For more information about Ako Wāhine, contact Tita Leaupepe:
“The Ako Wāhine programme was so much more than a World Rugby Educator course. It was my first opportunity to be amongst other women who live and breathe rugby. I had a great three days connecting with likeminded women who want to make a difference. I’ve now got a network across the country who I can talk to and share ideas around improving the game for women. I feel it empowered me not only as a person but also in rugby, showing me there was more to my journey and I had more to give to my community. I came away thinking of areas I could influence in terms of my role on the North Harbour Board - while it’s focused on driving better outcomes for women in rugby, I interact with men, women, boys and girls, and my takeaways from Ako Wāhine will contribute to the game as a whole.”
Rebecca Stanaway is an Ako Wāhine participant and educator, Referee, North Harbour Rugby Union Board Member, and North Harbour Rugby Referees Board Member.