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17 George St, Parnell, Auckland
09 358 1044

Empowering through education

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More About the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust

How it all began

The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust is a Charitable Trust whose main purpose is to help others achieve in furthering their education, through the provision of scholarships, financial and other assistance. The Trust is named in recognition of Kate Milligan Edger (1857-1935), the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in the British Empire.

The Trust grew out of the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand federation of Graduate Women, who started assisting with the regalia for graduation to help the University of Auckland over 40 years ago. This historic journey is documented in the book “The footsteps of Kate Edger”.

The Trust gives away over 100 awards each year. These awards vary from small $1,500 grants which assist awardees to retrain, to much larger $16,000 postdoctoral research awards. Without our help many of these awardees would not be able to access further education.  Follow the links below for more information:


kate-edger 1
Kate Milligan Edger (1857-1935)

Meet the Trustees

Stephanie Harris - KEECT Chair
KEECT Trustees Stephanie Harris
Joint Managing Partner
Glaister Ennor

“I act for a number of high profile businesses, both SMEs and larger corporates and attend to their day to day business requirements in particular as they relate to terms and conditions of supply, security interests, general structuring and finance.

I aim to deliver excellence to my clients in terms of my legal technical skills and to provide strategic problem solving solutions together with a clear and detailed understanding of what is the best client outcome.

In addition, I act for investors and developers with commercial property portfolios in both the private and public sector. With over 20 years experience I have gained invaluable expertise in undertaking large and complex property transactions and developments.”
Rebecca Ewert
KEECT TRUSTEES - Rebecca Ewert
Over a number of years, Rebecca has acquired considerable governance expertise and experience in the public and private sectors - in both commercial and not-for-profit environments.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s she served on the Executive Council of the Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand and as a member of the Board of the Institute of Social Research and Development Ltd.

She is currently the Chairman of the Board of Diving New Zealand, and is a member of the Board of Aquatics New Zealand, as well as being a director of her own consultancy company and an IT company.

In her capacity as Registrar and Secretary to Council of the largest polytechnic in New Zealand from 2000 until 2009, and as a mother of two children, each of whom has studied at a tertiary level, Rebecca has an excellent understanding and appreciation of the importance of education to individual growth and development, and its ability to transform lives. As a graduate of three New Zealand universities, Rebecca welcomes the opportunity, in her role as a Trustee of The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust, to assist in empowering others through education.
Margaret Crannigan Allen
Margaret Crannigan Allen
Manager, Scholarships and Graduations
The University of Auckland

On an annual basis, the University of Auckland administers more than 30M of Scholarships to domestic and international students.

With the use of scholarships as a recruitment tool, the office has an important strategic role at the University.  With her dual role as Manager of the Graduation and Scholarship Offices, Margaret sees students from their arrival at University from school, right up to their graduation - at undergraduate and post-graduate level.

Margaret graduated with an MBA with specialisations in Corporate Governance and Negotiation, both of which have helped in her role as a trust member.
Emeritus Professor Charmian O'Connor
Charmian CBE, JP, MSc, PhD (NZ), DSc (Auck), FRSNZ, FNZIC, FRSC, CChem, CSci, LTCL

Charmian spent 56 years as either a student or member of staff of the Chemistry Department at the University of Auckland, and has over 300 publications in refereed international journals. She was appointed Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Staff Development and Equal Employment Opportunities 1987-1998 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor 1994.


She was a Council Member of MIT for 13 years and has just completed 7 years as a Council Member of Unitec.  Charmian has chaired the Board of Trustees of the KEECT since its establishment in 2005. She has also served on many national committees, including The Royal Society of New Zealand, Chair of the Science Sub-Committee for UNESCO and the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. 


Charmian is passionate about providing opportunities for women to undertake tertiary education, whether it be in assisting mature women to undertake study in order to return to a profession or to take up work in the community or in encouraging women young women to enter University or a Polytech and to extend their studies so as to reach their potential in creative activities or research.  Charmian lives in Auckland and spends much of her spare time at the family bach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsular or at her family’s life-style block in Hunua. She still enjoys travelling overseas and in her semi-retirement took up croquet.

Sonia Pechner
Sonia Pechner, Executive Director, Academic Search International

Since its inception in 1999, Sonia Pechner (one of the founding Directors) has led Academic Search International’s strategic development, with a clear focus on establishing the company as the leading specialist executive search firm in higher education in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

With a passionate commitment to the higher education sector, Sonia has personally led a considerable number of search assignments, including senior academic positions across all discipline areas, as well as senior executive appointments.

The depth of Sonia’s experience and expertise is reflected in the invitation from the Association of Executive Search Consultants to sit on their Asia-Pacific Council.
Jill Smith
KEECT Trustees - Jill Smith Jill attended Auckland Girls' Grammar School and gained a Bachelor of Arts degree at Auckland University College.  Jill then trained as a singer and was given the soprano role in the inaugural production of NZ Opera's The Medium which toured and played in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin Festivals with the NZSO.  Jill then left for England, married and became a teacher.  

A move to Canada followed where Jill studied at The Toronto Conservatoire before returning to New Zealand with three small children.

Jill then spent 15 years teaching English and assisting students with learning difficulties.

Jill is the granddaughter of our namesake Kate Edger, and is proud to be connected with the Trust in her grandmother's name - which works to carry on her ideals to further the higher education of women.
Sarah Thomson - KEECT Trust Manager
IMG 5183-01A Sarah was appointed Trust Manager in 2014.  Sarah has a BA and MA (Hons) from the University of Auckland.

Sarah has broad management and governance experience across a range of not-for-profit organisations and social enterprise companies. 

Her previous roles include Executive Director of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation and Chief Executive of Diabetes New Zealand. 

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