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Top scholars honour Korea-New Zealand connections

Top scholars honour Korea-New Zealand connections

Two aspiring doctors who have combined their academic abilities with passions for sport and music have been awarded scholarships designed to deepen understanding between New Zealand and Korea.

Every year, the Asia New Zealand Foundation awards two scholarships to New Zealand students of Korean descent. The scholarships are in memory of David Holborow, a former New Zealand Ambassador to Korea.

The recipients of the $4,000 scholarships not only have excellent academic records but have also demonstrated leadership skills, and are committed to building positive relations between Asia and New Zealand.

Asia New Zealand Foundation executive director John McKinnon said the 2014 recipients – Jun-Hyuk Kwon and Jai Min Choi – were impressive young men who had already demonstrated leadership skills in their various endeavours.

“These scholarships, which have supported more than young 30 Korean New Zealanders over the years, are part of a wider initiative to develop a group of young people able to act as future leaders in New Zealand’s relationships with Asian countries.”

Jun-Hyuk (Peter) Kwon – secondary scholarship winner
Peter, 18, finished his studies at Hamilton Boys’ High School, where he was a prefect, in 2013. He is currently in his first year of a Bachelor of Science in biomedical science at the University of Auckland and is working toward medical school.

Born in Goyang, South Korea, Peter came to New Zealand at the age of five with his parents. He displayed outstanding academic ability throughout his schooling, and Hamilton Boys’ High School headmaster has described him as an “immense talent”.

Peter is also a keen sportsman, first signing up for a junior rugby club when he was 12. “People had not seen an Asian boy sign up to play rugby before.” He later represented his school at national level in the Under 15 secondary schools rugby tournament and was also a member of the rowing squad. He also learned the piano and guitar, received a bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, and volunteered in the community as a Korean language tutor.

Jai Min Choi – tertiary scholarship winner
Jai Min, 20, is studying toward a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Auckland. He has been involved in research at the Centre for Brain Research, currently focusing on dementia, and hopes to eventually specialise in neurology or neurosurgery.

Jai Min was dux of Massey High School in 2010 and a prefect at the school. He is a passionate violinist and plays in the University of Auckland’s Medical and Health Sciences Student Symphony Orchestra.

He believes there is a need to have greater visibility of Asian people in leadership roles in New Zealand, and hopes he can contribute to this by working in healthcare and having greater involvement with the community.

“Since the attitudes of the general public will affect how New Zealand as a nation interacts with Asia, especially with regards to immigration, tourism and trade, I think it is important to break any misconceptions of Asian people at a grassroots level.”

David Holborow founded the Korean Studies Programme in 1992 to enhance New Zealanders’ understanding of Korea. Through this programme, scholarships have been offered to outstanding young New Zealand students of Korean descent since 1999.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to building New Zealand’s links with Asia through a range of programmes, including business, culture, education, media, research and a Leadership Network. The Foundation is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.


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