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09 358 1044

Stand Proud in the only official and best graduation Regalia & Legal Attire

All proceeds fund & encourage education
through The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust


The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust


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 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."

Education was not an acquisition of knowledge for knowledge's sake alone, but was also intended to build up the moral character of the student.

Just as they took food to build up the body, so was knowledge needful to build up the mind.


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

The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust

The main purpose of the Trust is to provide funds for the promotion, advancement and encouragement amongst women of education, whether it be in the spheres of research and professional activities or artistic and creative activities.  A Charitable Trust whose main purpose is to help women achieve their educational goals, through the provision of scholarships, financial and other assistance.

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. 

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; $1,500 grants which assist awardees to retrain; $6,000 summer studentships; $16,000 doctoral and postdoctoral research awards.  Without the 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:

Our Very Own Dame Charmian O'Connor

The KEECT was delighted to hear that the Chairperson of our Awards Committee, Emeritus Professor Charmian O'Connor, was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and chemistry in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Dame Charmian was the driving force behind the foundation of The KEECT in 2005, and served as the Chair of the Trust from 2005-2013.

At a time in her life when most people would be content to rest and enjoy the fruits of a successful career, Dame Charmian is still closely involved in the running of the Awards and is a precious taonga for The KEECT.

We congratulate her and her family on this well-deserved recognition of her contributions to New Zealand.
Charmian for website
Photo from G Boehnke

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.”
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 $40M of scholarships to their 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.  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.
Emeritus Professor Dame Charmian O'Connor


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 of Unitec for 10 years. In 2005, prior to the wind-up of the Auckland Branch of the NZ Federation of Graduate Women, Charmian was instrumental in establishing the KEECT and transferring Academic Dress Hire to the Trust, thus ensuring continuation of the Awards Programme. She chaired the Board of Trustees for the first 9 nine years and has chaired the Awards Committee since inception. She has also served on many national committees, including The Royal Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and was Chair of the Science Sub-Committee for UNESCO.

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 young women to enter University or a Polytech and to extend their studies so as to reach their potential in creative activities or research. 

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.
Hilary Lewis 
Hilary Lewis 2 Hilary Lewis

Hilary attended Rangitoto College before heading to the University of Auckland to do a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting).  She has subsequently followed that up with a Master of Business Administration and Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, both also at Auckland.

Her strengths 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.

  Nina Tomaszyk
Nina 01

Nina Tomaszyk
General Manager
Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust t/a Academic Dress Hire

With extensive experience in the corporate and in the not-for-profit world, Nina brings an array of skills and experience – including fund raising, management, marketing, finance, and business ownership – to the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust.

Nina was most recently with the Neurological Foundation, but has also worked for the Auckland Foundation, the Starship Foundation, in the finance world, and in her own recruitment business.

Customer satisfaction and service delivery is important to her, in addition to maintaining staff engagement and cost effectiveness.

‘What New Zealand women and men have already achieved through education is great; I am enthusiastic about the educational outcomes this trust and charitable enterprise has supported in the past and the present, and am excited to expand our opportunities to support women in the future.’

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(09) 358 1044

map117 George Street
Newmarket, Auckland 1023

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