History of WILNZ

Our organisation was born in 1998 with the name New Zealand Association of Co-operative Education (NZACE). It arose from an informal meeting in Hamilton of Chris Kirk, the late Richard Chapman and others. At that time few academic institutions in New Zealand were developing WIL courses and the term predominantly used was ‘co-operative education’ or ‘co-op’. For some years the terms ‘co-operative education’ and ‘work-integrated learning’ were used almost interchangeably in New Zealand. At the time of inception, the emphasis for NZACE was to support institutions in the development of ‘Co-op’ programs/courses. For many it was a new concept and promoted as competitive point of difference to other institutions. In its early days, involvement of workplaces in NZACE was strongly encouraged – as seen by the Constitutional requirement that half the Board be members of an employing workplace. At least one early President of NZACE was an employer.


The first conference was a one-day event held in 1998 at Manukau Institute of Technology. Conferences continued as one day events until 2001. A key consideration for the introduction of the second day was the inclusion of a conference dinner. Conference has always been a key event in the organisation’s calendar but grown substantially from the 15 attendees in the early days to close to 100 now attending.

NZACE twice hosted the Asia-Pacific Conference as part of the world association calendar – on both occasions in Auckland. At the second of these events, Australian delegates decided that it would be good if a similar organisation formed in Australia. This was the impetus to the formation of our Australian counter-part.


On route to a conference in Rotorua, a delegate Allister McLay was injured in a car accident and later died. The Allister McLay Award was developed in his memory to recognise the Best Paper at the NZACE/WILNZ conference. Other awards have subsequently been developed. Chris Kirk, Chris Eames, David Hodges, Richard Coll, and Katharine Hoskyn have been honoured with Life Membership. Richard Coll, Karsten Zegwaard and Andy Martin are Fellows of WILNZ.

Journal and Research

Richard Coll, supported by University of Waikato, initiated the Asia-Pacific Journal of Co-operative Education in 2000, which was later re-named International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning (IJWIL). As the journal grew and required professional copy-editing, NZACE/WILNZ became the main financial supporter. In its first year three papers were published. In 2022 the journal had four issues including 38 papers.

Research has been a key focus for a number of years. NZACE has obtained funding for multi-institution research projects, supported members undertaking PhDs in WIL and organised research forums and workshops. Several workshops have been taken by Chris Eames, Richard Coll, Karsten Zegwaard, Jenny Fleming, Andy Martin, Patricia Lucas, Kathryn Hay and others.


In 2020 NZACE became Work-Integrated Learning New Zealand Inc (WILNZ) in recognition of the more prevalent term now used for this concept. In conjunction with the change of name, a new logo was developed and a whakatauki adopted. The logo was developed by two design students as a WIL placement: Laura Thresher (from University of Waikato, supported by Karsten Zegwaard) and Libby Hare (from WINTEC, supported by Klaus Reiter). The whakatauki was suggested by Ian Christensen (of He Kupenga Hao i te Reo) after discussion with Andy Martin. The logo represents key stakeholders in the WIL educational approach, with the central dot/head being the student cradled by the workplace/community and the educational institution (the two outside lines). This image represents the academic institution and workplace/community coming together to assist/raise up the student. This description is reflective of the explanation in WIL literature of the relationship between three stakeholders, where the student is both the pivotal point of the relationship and the primary focus of the relationship. The whakatauki Tuia te ako, tuia te mahi, tuia te ara whaihua e can be translated as Weave together the learning, weave together the work, weave together productive pathways ahead. This whakatauki was been inspired by the following philosophy

A comprehensive history of NZACE/WILNZ is currently in development. If you have any information, anecdotes or photographs you would like to share, please contact Katharine Hoskyn at [email protected].