Women's Governance group Women on Boards is without a sponsor for its supreme prize following the cancellation of a major sponsorship with Russell McVeagh.

Group chair and Hamilton lawyer Julie Hardaker has announced the cancellation of the sponsorship - which she hoped would be replaced before the award ceremony on May 10.

"Our executive committee decided it was not appropriate for the law firm to continue the arrangement in view of the recent controversy surrounding the law firm," Hardaker said.

Women on Boards is a division of Governance New Zealand which aims to enhance the promotion and advancement of gender diversity in the governance space.


Embattled law firm Russell McVeagh was a sponsor at last year's awards, specifically for the firm's prestigious "Inspirational Excellence Award".

Women on Boards is the latest organisation to cut ties with the law firm, following a series of accusations which paint a culture of sexual harassment as rife within the firm.

All six of New Zealand's law schools have cut ties with Russell McVeagh as well as the NZ Schools' Debating Council.

The firm has announced it will undertake an external review in response to "serious" sexual allegations involving law students.

Dame Margaret Bazley has been appointed to head the review of incidents which took place in 2015/16.

Bazley would be assisted by a female lawyer whose appointment will be announced shortly.

Pip Greenwood, a senior partner at Russell McVeagh, said: "We recognise that the incidents of sexual harassment that have occurred at our firm have had a profound effect on the women involved and we are all truly sorry and horrified that they occurred."

Greenwood said: "We are extremely grateful to Dame Margaret for agreeing to conduct this review."

This year's Women on Boards conference is being held on May 10, 2018 at Auckland's Pullman Hotel with the theme Moving up the Ladder: Mapping your governance journey.

Nominations for the awards, which were in their third year, were open until April 6.