The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award was founded in 1956 by HRH Prince Philip, Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Everest. The idea was born in response to their concerns about the development of boys post World War II, due to the gap between leaving school at 15 and entering National Service at 18.
Although initially only available to boys aged between 14 and 18, there was great demand for a similar scheme for girls, and this was launched in September 1958. The Award continued to evolve over subsequent decades until 1980 when the upper age limit was extended to 25, and the Award took on its current four-Section format of: Service, Adventurous Journey, Skills and Physical Recreation.
Today, the Award is delivered in more than 130 countries worldwide, reaching over one million young people annually. It has expanded to target those who have not previously had opportunities to develop themselves, including young offenders, refugees and those with disabilities. The impact of the Award on many of these young people continues to be extraordinary.
The Award has been running in New Zealand since 1963. On 19 July 1963, the Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson, held the inaugural meeting of the National Council of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in New Zealand at Government House in Wellington, when a Constitution for The Award in New Zealand was adopted.
Known as The Young New Zealander’s Challenge from 2001 to 2009, the Award has been referred to as The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award since 2009.
With the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary in 2008, the New Zealand Government invited the Award to consider a name change to incorporate the Hillary name. The name reflects the significant achievements of both HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and Sir Edmund Hillary, one of New Zealand’s great adventurers.
In 2017 we moved to international branding to align ourselves with most Award countries while still allowing us to apply our own Kiwi flavour. Our legal name is:
Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
Aotearoa New Zealand | Hillary Award
Though in everyday terms we refer to the Award in New Zealand as either the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award.
There are approximately 8000 registrations annually and 22,000 young people engaged at any one time in the Award in New Zealand.