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Elevating and empowering more women coaches in high performance sport

  • 01 Dec 21

16 Women Coaches from 15 different sports across Aotearoa New Zealand have been selected for High Performance Sport New Zealand’s second intake to Te Hāpaitanga, a women’s coach development initiative.

Rowing NZ are delighted to announce that Fiona Bourke, Rowing NZ National Pathway Coach has been selected to join High Performance Sport New Zealand’s holistic coach development initiative, Te Hāpaitanga.

Fiona is excited about the journey ahead, “As part of Te Hāpaitanga I’m looking forward to growing and developing as a leader amongst a group of talented coaches involved in a multitude of sporting codes. To be a part of such an inspiring group of talented, passionate coaches is exciting and I look forward to discovering the future impact we can have within our respective sporting codes and the lives of the athletes we have the privilege of working with.”

Fiona grew up in the Central Hawkes Bay and started her rowing journey at the Otago University Rowing Club in 2007. Fiona represented New Zealand in 2010 as a member of the U23 women’s eight. She then transitioned to the elite team after gaining selection into the 2010 World Rowing Championships team to compete at Lake Karāpiro and remained with the elite team for six years. Alongside her multiple World Rowing Cup and World Rowing Championship medals, Fiona attended the 2012 London Olympics in the women’s quad and was a World Champion in the women’s double in 2014.

Following her retirement from professional rowing, Fiona travelled to the USA to be Waterfront Co-director of a summer camp under the Camp America program. It was here she connected with Harvard University where she became the assistant coach for their women’s crew. Fiona’s role included coaching crews in preparation for the Ivy League Championships, recruitment, and logistical organisation. Since returning to New Zealand in 2019, Fiona has been assistant coach at Auckland RPC and more recently Waikato RPC. Fiona was selected as U21 coach in 2020. Fiona’s involvement over the years with young athletes pursuing their goals has left her passionate about working in the development space and contributing to the progression and support of these athletes. Early last year Fiona moved into a National Pathway Coach role for Auckland and Otago and is thriving in the role.

Te Hāpaitanga (the act of elevating, lifting and empowering) is one of a number of HPSNZ initiatives in their ongoing commitment to Women in High Performance Sport. It is a holistic coach development initiative designed to enable more females to pursue and maintain a career in high performance coaching in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Over 18 months Te Hāpaitanga will provide these 16 women coaches a range of opportunities that test and develop their coaching capability and allow them to develop new skills to navigate a complex and challenging career in high performance sport.

In 2020 HPSNZ announced the inaugural intake of 12 women coaches to Te Hāpaitanga. Those women are now reaching the final stages of their 18-month journey.

Hannah Starnes now Head Coach of Waikato Rowing Club was one of the 12 women selected for the first intake of the programme.

Hannah had this to say about Te Hāpaitanga; “The level of thought and introspection that we have reached as both individuals and a group through Te Hāpaitanga is incredibly inspiring. The diversity of experience in the group really allows you to delve deep into the why behind your coaching practices. There’s always a different way to teach a skill, a fresh perspective on engagement, or even just the quiet knowledge that someone else has been there too, she knows exactly how it feels and that you’re not alone.”

“I’ve learnt from women at the top of their game- a lot of them very different on the outside but all of them authentic and engaging.” Hannah continues. “I’ve watched strong, powerful women soften after finally feeling like they have a safe space to show their emotions. I’ve had cup of tea conversations with women about their kids, their marriages, the juggle and the sacrifice. I’ve stood in silence with empowered women who were about to do something they never thought they could do, seen the resulting empowerment afterwards. The power of potential and the support network within the group is something quite special and I feel privileged to have been part of it.”

Hannah is thrilled for Fiona and the other 15 women coaches selected for the second intake who are:

Lucy Brown, Snow Sports, Queenstown

Danielle Cranston, Hockey, Auckland

Elyse Fraser, Cycling, Christchurch

Alana Gunn, Football, Christchurch

Honey Hireme-Smiler, Rugby League, Hamilton

Krystal Kaua, Rugby Sevens, Mount Maunganui

Arna Masjstrovic, Surf Life Saving, Gisborne

Terena Ranui, Football, Hamilton

Tamara Reed, Triathlon, Palmerston North

Julie Seymour, Netball, Christchurch

Holly Sullivan, Boxing, Christchurch

Heelan Tompkins, Equestrian, Rotorua

Leanne Walker, Basketball, Hamilton

Emily Willock, Canoe Racing, Gisborne

Angela Winstanley-Smith, Water Polo, Christchurch

For more information on Te Hāpaitanga see the Women in HP Sport page here