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The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust

The Trust is named in recognition of Kate Milligan Edger (1857-1935), the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in NZ, and the second in the British Empire.  It's main purpose is to help women achieve in furthering their education through the provision of financial awards and other assistance. 

The Trust is funded by Academic Dress Hire, a social enterprise whereby all the proceeds are used to fund The KEECT and financial awards.  When you hire from Academic Dress Hire, you are supporting education in the community.

Kate Milligan Edger 

  • First woman in NZ to gain a university degree (in 1877)
  • First woman in British Empire to gain a BA degree
  • A trailblazer for women's education
  • A role model for and champion of the female suffrage movement
  • A vocal exponent for women's contributions to public life
  • A committed and compassionate teacher, involved in social work, a family person
Kate believed that the highest aim of education should be to develop the moral character of each individual ''as perfectly as possible so that she may be ready to live her own life as fully as possible and contribute to the community as much as it is possible for her to contribute."

Read more about Kate Edger here


kate-edger 1

Kate Milligan Edger (1857-1935)

The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust (KEECT)

The Trust was established in 2005 to fund, support, encourage, promote and advance education for women, whether it be in the spheres of research and professional activities or artistic and creative activities.

The main purpose of the Trust is to help women achieve their educational goals through the provision of financial awards and other assistance. 

The Trust currently gives away over 100 awards for study each year. These awards vary from $500 to assist with Materials and Course Expenses and Hardship Grants; $2,000 grants which assist awardees to retrain; $6,000 summer studentships; $16,000 doctoral and postdoctoral research awards.  Without assistance from The KEECT, many of these awardees would not be able to access further education and realise their academic potential. Follow the links below for more information:

Founder of The KEECT
Emeritus Professor Dame Charmian O'Connor


Past Chair and Trustee of The KEECT
Past Chair of The KEECT Awards Committee
Dame Charmian was instrumental in establishing The KEECT in 2005 serving as Chair from 2005 - 2013, and then as Chair of the Awards Committee and a Trustee up until her recent retirement in October 2021.   The Trust grew out of the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women, who started assisting with regalia for graduations over 40 years ago.  Academic Dress Hire was established as a social enterprise under the Trust, ensuring the continuation of funding for the KEECT Awards Programme.

She 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 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 for website
Photo from G Boehnke

Meet the Trustees

Stephanie Harris - KEECT Chair
KEECT Trustees Stephanie Harris
Stephanie Harris (Chair)  LLB
Joint Managing Partner
Glaister Ennor

Stephanie has been one of The KEECT Trustees since 2007 and in the role of Chair since 2013.   As joint managing partner at Glaister Ennor, she acts for a number of high profile businesses and attends 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."

Stephanie acts for investors and developers with commercial property portfolios in both the private and public sectors. With over 20 years of experience, she has invaluable expertise in undertaking large and complex property transactions and developments.
Margaret Crannigan Allen
Margaret Crannigan Allen  MBA
Manager, Scholarships and Graduations
The University of Auckland

Margaret has been with the Trust since 2009 alongside her role as Manager of Scholarships and Graduations at the University of Auckland.   On an annual basis, the university administers more than $40M of scholarships to its students.  With the use of scholarships as a recruitment tool, the office has an important strategic role at the University.

Margaret sees students from their arrival at University from school, right up to their graduation - at undergraduate and post-graduate level.  One of the most enjoyable parts of Margaret's role, she feels, is helping students to complete their education with financial support - and reading the success stories as they graduate.

Margaret graduated with an MBA with specialisations in Corporate Governance and Negotiation, both of which have helped in her role as a trust member.

Hilary Lewis
Hilary Lewis 2-842-396-208

Hilary Lewis  MBA and Master of Commercialisation & Entrepreneurship

Hilary is now in her second tenure as a Trustee having joined the board in 2018.  She attended Rangitoto College before heading to the University of Auckland to do a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting).  Hilary subsequently followed that up with a Master of Business Administration and Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, both also at University of  Auckland.

Her strength and experience is in leading programmes of change, technology, innovation and business process improvement in large, medium, entrepreneurial and social enterprises.  Success has come from clarity of vision, strong commercial imperative, attention to detail, and an ability to communicate to and engage all involved.  This is supported by a strong finance, IT, commercial, strategic and executive background.

Hilary is passionate about a number of issues facing women today, having been involved of Breast Cancer Cure (funding research to find a cure for breast cancer) for 12 years, and Shine (focused on preventing domestic violence) and sees education as being a key driver of greater diversity and equality in our community.

Professor Lynda Bryder
Linda Bryder-542-652-556-404-378-349

Professor Linda Bryder  MA (1st Class Hons) (Auck) DPhil (Oxon) FRSNZ FNZAH

Linda has been a Trustee since early 2021. She has taught in the Department of History, University of Auckland, since 1988 and has been Professor of History since 2005. Originally completing her MA (1st Class Hons) at the University of Auckland in 1980, she was awarded her DPhil at the University of Oxford in 1985, where she held a Research Fellowship and subsequently a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Queen’s College Oxford. She maintains her links with Britain; since 2007 she has been an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Since joining the academic staff of the University of Auckland in 1988, Linda has served on many University and Faculty Committees, including Research, Staffing and Library Committees. She has been Head of Department, and has served as Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Arts. She has been awarded a University Research Excellence Award and a Teaching Excellence Award. The latter was based on her successful record of mentoring and supervising graduate students, particularly at PhD level. She has also mentored in the University’s  Women in Leadership programme. She currently serves on the Auckland Libraries Heritage Trust, and is co-editor of the New Zealand Journal of History.

Ru Wilkie
Ru Wilkie WP website-504 Ru Wilkie  BSc Psychology, BCom Marketing, and Management

Joining the board in January 2022, the Trust is delighted to welcome Ru Wilkie as its newest trustee. She is an experienced Management Consultant skilled in developing and delivering strategic projects with measurable customer outcomes. Ru’s skill set is a valuable addition to the Trust on the next exciting phase of its journey with the rebranding and upgrading of its digital presence, as well as exploring the growth and diversification of funding sources.

Ru’s past key roles include Acting Director of International Business and Director of Marketing for NZMA, Head of SME Marketing for NZ Post, setting up a Sales Academy for Vodafone NZ, and Account Director for Telecom NZ. More recently she has worked with several vocational colleges creating new brands from inception. This included developing marketing and sales strategies for domestic and international businesses, developing and implementing their digital strategies, and ensuring that strategic planning flowed through into better outcomes across each business.

Ru lives in Auckland with her family and is passionate about community and education. She recognises the role that education plays not only to empower and change the future of the individual, but also on their immediate family and community.
Dr. Jane Horan
Jane Horan Jan 21 image A-880-711

Dr Jane Horan  BA, MA (first class hons, Auck), PhD (Auck)

Jane is an economic anthropologist with expertise in the analysis of economy and the way this intersects with gender, political economy, and organisational structure. She is an exacting and academically rigorous social researcher and critical thinker. She has worked extensively over the last 20 years in contract research and evaluation, designing and conducting research projects for corporate organisations, NGOs, government, and in academia. She runs her own research company, Plain Jane, and is an associate at BERL, and a collaborator at Play CoLab.

Jane finished her PhD at the University of Auckland in 2012, and was awarded the Dame Joan Metge Post-Doctoral Award from The KEECT in 2013. She volunteered to join the Awards selection committee the following year, and as of April 2023, has been welcomed on as the newest member of the Board of Trustees.

Jane is passionate about social enterprise and the subversive impact this, along with education, can have on inequity. She is delighted to be taking her involvement with the Kate Edger Trust to the next level.

Nina Tomaszyk, General Manager of The KEECT and ADH

Nina 01-322-798Nina Tomaszyk, BSocSci

Nina has been at the helm of the organisation since 2017, and her considerable experience in both the corporate and not-for-profit worlds has given her a unique perspective on the importance of running a social enterprise that funds and supports a charitable trust.  “With The KEECT Awards Programme funding $600,000 awards annually and being almost entirely dependent on the proceeds of Academic Dress Hire, it is a balancing act of providing the best customer experience in the most cost-effective way.”

Nina is passionate about education and the opportunity it provides to create better outcomes.  The KEECT’s mission to fund, encourage, advance and promote education is at the heart of every decision she makes, and building meaningful and ongoing relationships with staff, graduates, awardees and sponsor partners is something that Nina excels at.  Her goal for 2022 is to expand the Trust's sponsor partnership funding arm to be able to offer even more awards in the future.

“Being able to provide valuable financial and emotional support that ensures successful educational outcomes is my driving force. Seeing our awardees stand proudly at the Awards Ceremony having their hard work and success acknowledged in front of their friends and whānau is what it’s all about for me. And I get that same wonderful experience when customers come for their graduation and legal regalia. It is a real ‘moment’ for them and whānau, sometimes it is their first real achievement.”

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09 358 1044


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