Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, is the centre of the future of women’s sport this week with the 8عشر IWG World Conference on Women & Sport. It’s attracted everyone from Olympians to grassroots sportspeople, officials, coaches, scientists and more . . . all with a passion to further women and girls in sport.
Pam Elgar is the chair of New Zealand Secretariat, Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA) Māori Rōpū, He Wāhine Toa Kei te Kokiri. Right from the beginning, creating a true partnership with WISPA. From the get go, one of the key focuses of the conference has been on indigeneity. “We wanted to give people an authentic experience of being in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, Aotearoa,” she says, “and for everyone to know there are two peoples here.”
The pōwhiri at Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Marae set the scene on Sunday, with the opening day of the conference today (Monday) wrapping the 1200 attendees in manaakitanga and whanaungatanga, and giving the 500 following virtually a sense of belonging.
The conference is proudly bi-lingual garnering positive feedback from many already. “It has been wonderful,” says Mrs Elgar.
An offsite indigenous-specific workshop on Wednesday is open to anyone who identifies as indigenous. “It will give a voice to those who wouldn’t usually speak in this environment.”
But her biggest wish is for the IWG to carry on the call of indigeneity for the future.
The conference, which runs through to Thursday, is the single biggest gathering in the world to advance gender equity and equality in sport. Speakers and presenters have travelled from across the globe to share their knowledge and passion.
As the presentations roll out at the Aotea Centre, there is a hub in Fiji, hosted by the Australian High Commission and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for groups from the Pacific Islands, so they can attend virtually.
IWG co-chair Raewyn Lovett says it is “fantastic” to have so many offshore guests at the conference. “We look back at the uncertainty we faced and now to see so many people on the ground is something quite special,” says Ms Lovett. “They are already engaging in very important conversations, and are keen to learn and listen.”
She felt immense pride in all that had been achieved already. “So much has gone into bringing this all together.”
It is the largest event in the IWG’s 30-year history and the biggest sports conference ever to be staged in Aotearoa New Zealand, with participants confirmed from 300 organisations in over 60 countries. There are more than 220 sessions and nearly 500 international presenters who come from all sorts of backgrounds.
Scholarships have also been given to First Nation women including 30 scholarships given to wāhine and kōhine Māori.
The IWG on Women and Sport is the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing sport by empowering women and girls . . . and never has this been more important.