Aspiring scholars sought for public access scholarship

Applications are being sought for a $5,000 scholarship that will support study into public access to the outdoors and New Zealand's farming heritage.

Launched in 2014, the John H Aspinall Scholarship is named after the late John (Henry) Aspinall - a highly respected South Island farming leader who passed away in 2011 at the age of 60.

The scholarship has been made possible through a partnership between the Aspinall family and the New Zealand Walking Access Commission. It is managed by Universities New Zealand on behalf of the Commission. Scholarship applicants must be currently enrolled, either full time or part time, in an Honours, Masters or Doctoral programme at a New Zealand university.

Commission chairman John Forbes said the scholarship celebrates Mr Aspinall's enthusiasm for farming, the land, and access of the outdoors as part of the New Zealand way of life. It also supports the idea of 'linking New Zealand', which Mr Aspinall strongly believed in.

“John was very keen to ensure that other New Zealanders were able to enjoy rural life as he did. The scholarship provides the opportunity for a student to study a topic that will encourage a greater understanding of the value of developing better relationships between urban and rural New Zealand.”

Mr Aspinall was a member of the Commission's Board when he passed away and his death was widely felt by New Zealand farming and outdoor recreation communities. He and the Aspinall family are well known for their generosity in allowing up to 80,000 people each year to cross their family farm - Mount Aspiring Station.

Mr Aspinall's wife Sue said, “Access and farming was important to John and he just loved helping young people and teaching them about the outdoors. He felt strongly about access to the outdoors and it was very seldom he would turn someone away when they asked to cross the station.

“John had some firm opinions on farming and access,” she said, “but he also had an uncanny ability to understand various points of view and bring the parties together."

Anybody interested in applying for the scholarship is invited to contact or the Scholarships Office at their university. Applications close next week.