New Zealand Harkness Fellowship is for a high potential senior leader 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.

One New Zealand Harkness Fellowship worth up to NZ$70,000 is being offered in 2024 (for travel in mid-late 2024), to a person who is currently employed in in the New Zealand Public Sector.  The length and total value of the Fellowship will be determined by the LDC and Harkness Trust Board, in conjunction with the successful applicant.

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 executive leaders in the Public Sector 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.


As part of your fellowship proposal, you will need to;

  • State the objectives and methodology of your proposed project.
  • Describe the significance of your project for your field in both the US and New Zealand.
  • Outline your ideas for how your experiences in the US will be communicated and applied to the New Zealand context to effect a particular outcome(s).
  • Demonstrate a track record of learning and growth in characteristics representative of the future leadership that the New Zealand Public Sector needs.
  • Provide evidence of a planned and purposeful approach to the Fellowship.

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. 


One fellowship valued at up to NZ$70,000 will be offered in 2024 (for an award start date in mid-late 2024). 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$70,000 must be met by the Fellow and/or their New Zealand employer.

Read about previous fellow's experience:

2023 fellow: Jym Clark

2016 fellow: Aphra Green

To be eligible, you must:

  • be a New Zealand citizen who is currently residing in New Zealand.
  • be a high potential senior leader in the New Zealand Public Sector.
  • 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.

In endorsing your application, the employing agency is seeking system prioritisation of your development and needs to commit to supporting this. This may be through provision of leave (paid or unpaid leave), coverage of insurance while travelling, and/or providing opportunities for the research or learning to the shared with other public sector leaders on their return.

The Fellowship is not intended for post-graduate or academic research. This is a prestigious opportunity to travel to the United States for 3-6 months to benefit from new ideas, practices and contacts in the US and bring those back to apply them to emerging and important issues that we face in New Zealand.

  • The period of your award is a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 6 months with a mid-late 2024 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.

Applications have now closed for 2024. 

Late applications will not be accepted. Interviews will be held in Wellington and we will advise you of the outcome of your application shortly after interview.

Application form

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

Supporting documents include;

  • A scanned copy 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.

NZ Harkness Fellowship Application [PDF, 360 KB]

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.

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.

If you have any questions concerning eligibility or the application process, email