Scholarship funds development research in Nepal

10 April 2017
Devon standing on what used to be a petrol station in a now-abandoned village in Abaiang, Kiribati
Devon standing on what used to be a petrol station in a now-abandoned village in Abaiang, Kiribati.

With her masters year getting underway and her financial situation uncertain, it was looking like Development Studies student Devon Hanna was going to have to curtail her research plans.

That all changed with the news that she had been awarded a James Bertram Scholarship to undertake fieldwork in Asia.

Receiving this scholarship means that Devon can now pursue a project on the New Zealand humanitarian workers who responded to the earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

She will use the funding to travel to Nepal to see first-hand the results of the projects undertaken there, and to meet with Nepalese people who worked with New Zealanders in the aftermath of the disaster.

She will also be speaking to the New Zealanders who travelled to Nepal to ask about their reasons for going, and the channels that they used to get there.

"I will be able to get an insiders’ and an outsiders’ perspective."

Devon explains that New Zealand and Nepal have a long-term aid relationship, due in a large part to the work of Sir Edmund Hillary. She points out that both countries are also currently recovering from major earthquakes.

Devon says that it was "such a relief" to hear that her application for the scholarship was successful.

"I didn't know how I would be able to get overseas to do this project justice."

The James Bertram Scholarship for Asia is funded by the Wigram Foundation, and provide up to five scholarships worth up to $50,000 each to support postgraduate students who are engaging with Asia in their research.

They were established in memory of James Bertram, who was born in 1910 and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, journalist, writer, relief worker, prisoner of war and a Professor of English.

Devon applied for the scholarship in October last year, and was informed of her success while she was on her way back from doing work with the P3 Foundation in Kiribati.

She was with a group of six young New Zealanders who had travelled there to talk to locals about the development issues that they are facing.

The people of the low-lying islands of Kiribati are already bearing the consequences of climate change through rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of bad weather.

Devon says that the trip was a useful opportunity to see how the organisations helping to tackle these issues operate, to find out about the issues faced by locals, and to see how they are responding to issues that we will soon be facing in New Zealand.

Thanks to the James Bertram Scholarship for Asia, she can continue her valuable development research on an international scale.

Find out more about the James Bertram Scholarship for Asia