August 2023, Articles

Women in High Performance Sport Residency Experience participants confirmed

HPSNZ has completed the selection process for the 2023 intake of the Women in High Performance Sport (WHPS) Residency Experience programme.

The Residency Experience attracted 34 applications and 11 women have now been confirmed in the bespoke fixed term Residency Experience, which covers many aspects of high performance sport including coaching, coach development, pathways as well as high performance and event leadership.

The revamped Residency Experience provides flexibility for individuals looking for leadership opportunities in high performance sport through residency-based roles in NSOs.  Its key objective is to grow the talent pool of women high performance leaders and coaches in New Zealand.

WHPS Lead Helene Wilson says that by putting people at the centre of the Residency Experience, HPSNZ is able to grow organisational capacity and provide opportunities where women utilise their leadership expertise in the New Zealand high performance system.

“The application process created a space for everyone to learn together, creating bespoke opportunities that are mutually beneficial.  It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Helene.

The full list of residents and their Residency Experience employers is:

  • Mariah Ririnui (Athletics NZ)
  • Lisa Wallbutton (Basketball NZ)
  • Elyse Fraser (Cycling NZ)
  • Verity Sharland (Hockey NZ)
  • Kelly McCallum (HPSNZ coaching team)
  • Holly Fletcher (Surf Life Saving NZ)
  • Emily Carter (Tennis NZ)
  • Tamara Reed (Triathlon NZ)
  • Kim Smith (Volleyball NZ)
  • Polly Powrie (NZ Water Polo)
  • Kelly Ihaka-Pitama (Weightlifting NZ and Pathways South Auckland)


The successful applicants include women from the corporate and education sectors, graduates form HPSNZs women’s targeted coach development programme Te Hāpaitanga and current and retired high performance athletes stepping into high performance leadership positions.

Kelly Ihaka-Pitama, who has joined HPSNZ’s Regional Pathways Performance team in South Auckland and Weightlifting NZ as General Manager of High Performance, is one of the Residency Experience participants.

“I was initially attracted to the Residency Experience opportunity as a way of giving back to my sport of weightlifting in a leadership role, using my skill set and life experience,” says Kelly.

The Regional Pathways Lead for South Auckland role is also one which is close to Kelly’s heart.  “South Auckland is my home and the 18-month pilot programme role will focus on identifying and creating potential opportunities for pathways and partnerships with athletes, coaches and facilities.”

Looking forward, Kelly says if there is one main objective for the next 18 months it will be to create a collective response to support athletes and coaches transitioning into high performance sport from within their South Auckland or weightlifting community.

Kim Smith is excited at the opportunity to develop personally and professionally at Volleyball NZ through the Residency Experience and to add to her existing sporting experiences as an athlete and coach across rugby and volleyball.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity the programme offers to build confidence, capability and visibility of our past and future women performance pathway coaches,” says Kim.

“Observing and working with national women coaches from other NSOs and the opportunity to share quality practice strategies that support our performance programmes is a key feature of the programme.

“I’m also looking forward to leading and mentoring a group of eight to 10 women coaches who are currently working in the development area of the Volleyball NZ coaching framework with aspirations to work through the Excel award and coach our national teams,” Kim says.

Volleyball NZ Performance Manager, Colleen Campbell, reiterates Kim’s viewpoint from the NSO’s perspective.  “We were attracted to become part of the Residency Experience programme to enable us to have dedicated time and resource allocated to women in coaching,” says Colleen.

“Having someone of Kim’s calibre leading the project further complements the opportunity for us and will help provide a structure that ensures our women coaches have the support they need while coaching and enable them to see themselves in the high performance environment.”

Kim Smith (centre) at the WHPS Residency Experience induction workshop