Refreshed NZ Harkness Fellowships resume after three years of covid disruption

After a three-year hiatus caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the relaunched NZ Harkness Fellowships programme is back in business.

The NZ Harkness Fellowship Trust has appointed the first two Fellows to travel to the US under its new relationship with the Leadership Development Centre of Te Kawa Mataaho – Public Service Commission.

Jym Clark, a senior policy analyst at the Ministry for the Environment, will be based in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico’s Indigenous Planning and Design Institute.

His project combines climate change adaptation policy and urban planning that takes account of indigenous and other ethnic communities’ approaches and needs.

Aimee Hadrup, Manager – Tamariki Wellbeing at The Southern Initiative based at Auckland Council, will visit the renowned Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University to understand how it is enabling public sector leaders to act on the Center’s world-leading research.

The Harkness Fellowships are offered to emerging public sector leaders to enable them to visit world-class institutions in the US to gain insights that can be applied to public sector initiatives in Aotearoa. The Fellowships were relaunched last year with a refreshed focus on identifying and developing emerging future leaders in the public service. The Harkness Fellowships Trust offered two fellowships in 2023 valued at $60,000 each. 

Climate-resilient development

Jym Clark will research urban development in the face of climate adaptation, with the aim of keeping people out of harm’s way while enabling development in safe and resilient urban areas.

“New Mexico is on the front line of climate change with recent severe flooding and wildfire,” says Jym.

“The lessons learned in New Mexico and other parts of the US can help inform our new resource management system here in Aotearoa.”

Jym will be joined by his partner Biddy Livesey and daughter on the four month fellowship in late 2023.

The first 1,000 days

Aimee Hadrup will research and develop case studies of innovative place-based initiatives underway in the US to help inform thinking around how our public service can better support communities to lead their own wellbeing responses. 

“Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child’s research has clearly demonstrated one of the most important things any government can do to disrupt inequity and intergenerational disadvantage, is to better support whānau in the critical first 1000 days of a child’s life. I’m interested in understanding how we can work across agencies and power up communities to lead the way,” says Aimee. 

“I am absolutely thrilled to be awarded a prestigious Harkness Fellowship – it really is a dream come true,” adds Aimee, who will also be accompanied by her family during the fellowship.

The 2023 Harkness fellowships represent a new chapter for the Harkness Fellowships Trust, with a new partnership with Te Kawa Mataaho – Public Service Commission and fellowships of greater value and longer duration.

“We really wanted to attract the very best of the public sector’s emerging leaders and give them a greater opportunity to pursue their research interests,” says Pattrick Smellie, Chair of the Harkness Fellowships Trust.

“It’s great to be back in business after being unable to send fellows to the US for three years. We have big plans for the future and these fellowships represent a rare opportunity for the future leaders of the public sector,” adds Pattrick.

About the Harkness Fellowships Trust


The Harkness Fellowships programme has over the last sixty years enabled mid-career professionals who aspire to significant leadership roles within New Zealand, particularly in but not limited to the public sector, to benefit from new ideas, practices and contacts in the United States. 

The Fellowship programme in New Zealand has supported over 120 talented people to pursue study and research programmes in the US. Many have gone on to become leaders in their profession and to make outstanding contributions to science and technology, health care and education, economics and public sector leadership.

Past fellows include scientist Professor Sir Richard Faull, former Director General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi, businessman Sir Hugh Fletcher and Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes.

The NZ Harkness Fellowships are distinct from the Harkness Fellowships in Healthcare Policy and Practice that are administered by the Commonwealth Fund of New York.

Harkness Fellowships 2023 – applications are now open!

New Zealand Harkness Fellowships are for emerging senior New Zealand Public Service leaders in any field of study or vocation (excluding health care policy and practice) to study or research in the US for between 3-6 months.

Applications close 5pm, 31 March, 2023. CLICK HERE to download the application form

Up to two New Zealand Harkness Fellowships worth up to NZ$70,000 will be offered in 2023 (for travel in mid-late 2023), to a person who is currently employed in in the New Zealand Public Service. The length and total value of the Fellowship will be determined by the Leadership Development Centre and Harkness Trust Board, in conjunction with the successful applicant(s).

The New Zealand Harkness Fellowships were established in 2009 by the New Zealand Harkness
Fellowships Trust Board to reinforce links between New Zealand and the US and to enable emerging
leaders in the public and private sectors to benefit from study and travel in the US.

Their purpose is to enable appointed Fellows to gain first-hand knowledge and build contacts in their chosen field of endeavour that will be highly relevant to the NZ context and future NZ/US links.

The Trust Board is working in partnership with the Leadership Development Centre, which is acting on
behalf of the NZ Government.

The programme has four goals:

  • Reinforce New Zealand-United States links by enabling actual or potential leaders and opinion
    formers in New Zealand to benefit from new ideas, practices and new contacts in the US;
  • Increase the Fellow’s ability to bring about change and improvements in New Zealand;
  • Help improve the cross-fertilisation of ideas and experience between New Zealand and the United
    States; and
  • Build a leadership network on both sides of the Pacific, encourage ongoing exchange between
    New Zealand and the United States and establish enduring relationships offering reciprocal
    benefits to both countries.

Applications close 5pm, 31 March, 2023. CLICK HERE to download the application form


Up to two fellowships valued at up to NZ$70,000 are offered in 2023 (for an award start date in mid-late 2023).

New Zealand Harkness Fellowships are intended to contribute towards travel costs (international and domestic), accommodation and per diem expenses. Additional costs in excess of NZ$50,000 must be met by the Fellow and/or their New Zealand employer.

A basic health benefit plan covering a maximum of US$50,000 per sickness or injury will be paid for
separately by the Trust, on the provision of a quote from the successful Fellow.


To be eligible, you must:

  • be a New Zealand citizen who is currently residing in New Zealand.
  • be an emerging senior leader in the New Zealand Public Service.
  • have an interest in learning from your experience in the US and be capable of putting to effect in NZ, relevant lessons learned.
  • be endorsed by your chief executive to be a high-potential and influential leader.

The Fellowship is not intended for post-graduate or academic research. It provides an opportunity for emerging public service leaders in New Zealand to develop their ideas, practices and contacts in the US.

Application process and key dates

Applications close 5pm, 31 March 2023.

Interviews will be held in Wellington in mid-April 2023

You will be advised of the outcome of your application shortly after the interviews.

You must complete and submit the application form below by the application deadline, along with
all required supporting documents. Supporting documents include:

  • a scan of the photo page of your passport
  • a letter of invitation (or exchange of emails indicating support for hosting you) from a
    potential host organisation in the US.

Award conditions

  • The period of your award is a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 6 months with a
    mid-late 2023 award start date as negotiated with the Leadership Development Centre and
    Harkness Fellowship Trust NZ;
  • You must travel on a NZ passport, and US immigration documentation must be
    completed from within New Zealand;
  • You will be expected to take the opportunity to deliver seminars or speak with various
    groups as opportunities arise;
  • You may be required to fulfil some Harkness media requirements before your departure
    for the US, during your exchange and/or on return to the NZ;
  • You must provide Harkness with copies of any articles or research papers resulting from
    your Fellowship. A final report must also be completed before you depart from the US.

Selection criteria

Applicants will need to:

  • Be able to demonstrate that they have the capacity to develop as exceptional leaders of
    intelligence, empathy and resilience who can play a significant leadership role in New Zealand
  • Have a proposed programme which meets the vision of the Fellowship, with clearly defined
    learning objectives and a plan to transfer and embed learning on return.
  • Be capable of putting whatever lessons they have learned into effective use back in New Zealand.
  • Have a commitment to increasing international understanding and be a cultural ambassador for
    New Zealand.

Frequently asked questions

Can I take my family?

Yes, although there is no additional funding available and the Fellow is solely responsible for any visa and insurance processes.

Where can I go?
Fellows are expected to be based at a government agency, university, research institute or ‘think tank’ for a significant part of their stay in the US. Applicants are asked to provide a letter of invitation from a potential host organisation at the time of their application, or an exchange of emails indicating support from a potential host agency.

It is also anticipated that during their time in the US, Fellows will travel outside of their ‘home base’ to other parts of the USA.

How long can I stay?
New Zealand Harkness Fellowships are for study or research in the US for a minimum of three
months and a maximum of six months.

Applications close 5pm, 31 March, 2023. CLICK HERE to download the application form

If you have any questions concerning eligibility or the application process, contact:
Karen Quigan, Director, Leadership Development Centre:


Fellows in the spotlight: Aphra Green

In 2016, Aphra Green, then a senior manager at the Ministry of Justice, visited the US justice sector as a Harkness Fellow.

Her research looked at how New Zealand could deliver better evidence and decision-making tools to criminal justice system decision-makers, particularly for bail.

Now a Now a Chief Advisor at the Social Wellbeing Agency, following terms served in deputy chief executive roles at Oranga Tamariki, Aphra reflects on the opportunities she gained from her Harkness fellowship experience.

What are your memories of being a Harkness Fellow in the United States?

“My time in the US was incredibly formative – both personally and professionally.  

“I was lucky to be there during a period of innovation and transformation in their electoral cycle – justice system reform was imperative for the US given its high prison population, and significant Federal funding was being provided to shift how justice systems in the US worked to taking an evidence-informed and collaborative approach.  

“New Zealand was in a similar position of having a very high prison population and the need to innovate.  We were also doing some very similar innovation, particularly in the area of cross-sector collaboration – so it was great to be able to share with the US what we were learning – and to learn from them.  

“Taking a more strongly evidence-based approach was also something we were in the early stages of doing, so again there was a lot to learn from the US in this regard.”

What was the most useful aspect of the fellowship?

“It was being able to take time away from my day job to have a period of concentrated learning – it was an incredibly creative period for me, rejuvenating my passion for being a leader in the public service and in the ability of government to create positive change in society.”

How did you apply what you learned during your fellowship to your work at the Ministry of Justice?

“In addition to all of the ideas I picked up in the US, the biggest thing was the contacts and relationships that I brought back with me.  These were invaluable to the justice sector’s work, and when we ran the Justice Summit in the following year, many of the leading thinkers and innovators I had met while in the US were able to come to NZ to continue the collaboration, and a number have even visited NZ in the years since. 

“One of my key areas of focus was bail decision-making, and some of the ideas and contacts that I was able to bring back informed the establishment of the Bail Support Service – a new service that is similar to Pre-trial Services that run in the US.”

As a senior public servant, what are your thoughts on the attributes we need in emerging leaders in the public service?

“We need leaders who are future-focused, innovative, and able to connect people and ideas to get things done.  More than ever, the problems that we are solving in government are multi-dimensional, so creative approaches are needed to their solutions.  

“We need leaders in the public service who are able to recognise that government often doesn’t hold the solutions but it has an instrumental role in creating the space and providing the circumstances for solutions to arise – leaders who can bring multiple and disparate viewpoints together around a table, and then make something happen.”