The Dame Sister Mary Leo Scholarship was established by the Grand Opera Society of Auckland (Inc.) in 1980. The twin purposes of the Scholarship were to recognise the great contribution which Dame Sister Mary Leo had made to singing in New Zealand for many years and to create an opportunity for young singers to make a career in operatic singing.

As a result of the rising costs of running a national singing competition, the Trustees decided that interest from the remaining invested funds is to be donated annually to the New Zealand Opera School and that this amount will be awarded to one of the twenty two students attending the School. Judging is undertaken by the School's six senior tutors, who observe and listen to the students throughout the two-week duration of the School. The final judging takes into account students’ performance in the Great Opera Moments concert in the Royal Wanganui Opera House. The Scholarship is then presented at the post-concert function. The amount granted is normally $5000.

The judging panel of tutors is chaired by Trustee of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation and former opera singer Rodney Macann.

The Scholarship is now known as the ‘Dame Sister Mary Leo Scholarship in conjunction with the New Zealand Opera School’.

The Dame Sister Mary Leo Scholarship trustees are:
Maurice Chatfield MNZM, JP (Chair)
John Collinge
Rita Chalmers (Secretary)
Leonie Lawson
Donald Trott ONZM, JP