How to apply

Applications for the 2025 Fellowship are now open Please note the application deadline is 5pm 15 July 2024 (NZT). 

Axford Fellowships mission

The mission of the Ian Axford Fellowships in Public Policy programme is to increase mutual understanding between the United States and New Zealand. Axford Fellows are expected to understand and support this mission. To support this understanding, Fellows are required to attend an orientation programme held each February in Wellington.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a US citizen with at least five years’ experience in your profession.
  • Be a mid-career professional active in any part of the public, business or non-profit sector.
  • Be a potential leader and opinion-former in your chosen field.
  • Have an interest in learning from your experience in New Zealand and capable of putting to effective use in the US, any policy lessons learned.

New Zealand government departments are consulted each year about what they consider their “hot” policy topics. These are the topics they would be particularly interested in having an Axford Fellow research. These topics are being continuously added to as the New Zealand Government forms and sets its policy priorities for the coming few years. Click here for more details. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of possible topics of enquiry for an Axford fellow but instead should be treated as a general guideline for key agency priority topics. You are welcome to suggest topics outside of this list, however this would be subject to the approval the individual agency. The fellowship can be between three to five months in duration. Applicants should discuss a timeline preference with their potential host agency, but the Axford board will decide what length Fellowship they decide to offer selected Fellows.


The entitlements include:

  • Returns airfares to New Zealand.
  • A stipend of:
    • Fellows on paid leave with full salary will receive a living allowance of NZ$1,500 per month on top of their salaries.
    • Those on paid leave with partial salary will receive an allowance of NZ$2,500 per month on top of their salaries.
    • Those unable to obtain paid leave from their US employer will receive an allowance of NZ$5,000 per month.
  • Fellows with dependents (regardless of how many) will receive a dependent allowance NZ$500 per month. Additionally, a maximum contribution of NZ$3,000 will be contributed towards dependents’ flights.

Please note: Financial entitlements are based on information provided with your application and are determined at the time your application is received. Changes to these entitlements are not possible unless a change in circumstances is likely to result in a lower entitlement.

We will require a letter from your employer confirming their support for your participation in the fellowships programme, and also confirming whether you will receive full, partial or no paid leave.

Regarding leave status, please note that the Fellowships are fully funded by the New Zealand Government. Federal agency heads have broad discretionary authority regarding employee participation in training and developmental assignments. This can include time away from regular job duties with continued payment of salary as well as payment for certain travel expenses.

Alternatively, employees may request leave (paid or unpaid) in the event that participation is not possible as a training/developmental assignment. Prospective applicants should refer to their agency’s human resources policies. Since the fellowships were established in 1996, approximately one-third of Fellows have come from Federal agencies, many with salary support.


The award has the following conditions:

  • You will be required to provide Fulbright New Zealand with evidence of financial support (or not) from your employer before the value of your award can be confirmed.
  • The duration of your award will be decided by the Ian Axford Fellowship board and will commence from 1 February.
  • You must travel on a US passport, and New Zealand immigration documentation must be completed from within the US.
  • International travel will only be funded between the US and New Zealand.
  • You will be based in Wellington but are expected to travel within New Zealand to conduct research for your fellowship.
  • You will be required to produce and submit a policy report for publication by the Fellowships Office and to deliver a public seminar on your findings. The length and extent of the policy report will reflect the length of the Fellowship, i.e. a longer, more in-depth report is expected from a longer fellowship.
  • You will be expected to take the opportunity to deliver seminars or speak with various groups as opportunities arise.
  • You will also be expected to participate fully in any activities arranged by Fulbright New Zealand.
  • You may be required to fulfil some Fulbright New Zealand media demands before your departure for New Zealand, during your exchange and/or on return to the US.
  • In addition to your policy report, you must provide Fulbright New Zealand with copies of any further articles, research papers or theses resulting from your fellowship. A final evaluation report must also be completed before you depart from New Zealand.


The Ian Axford Fellowships in Public Policy are sponsored by the following New Zealand government agencies and other organisations:

Note that not all sponsoring agencies are able to host Fellows.

Application process

  • You must complete and submit the application form below by the application deadline. A strong application is one where candidates show that their proposed project will inform policy in New Zealand and the United States and contribute something of value to their policy field.
  • You must also submit all required support documents by the application deadline.
  • You must arrange for three references to be submitted by the application deadline, in the format outlined in the Guide for Referees document below.
  • Interviews will be held in Washington, DC in early September, and will include a mini-orientation for selected Fellows.