J H Aspinall Scholarship

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission administers a $5,000 scholarship, which is made available to New Zealand students researching public access to the outdoors and New Zealand’s farming heritage.

The annual J H Aspinall Scholarship is a partnership between the Aspinall family and the New Zealand Walking Access Commission. It is named after a South Island farming leader, John Henry Aspinall, who died in 2011.

The scholarship is an important way in which the Commission can actively support research that promotes a better understanding of public access to the outdoors.


This scholarship honours the contributions of John Aspinall and the Aspinall family to public access so that New Zealanders can enjoy the outdoors.

It also highlights the value and public good that comes from building the relationship and understanding between rural and urban New Zealand and enhances the good name of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

Fields of study or research

The areas of research and study which can be supported by this scholarship are not limited.

The Commission invites applications covering a wide range of research areas and interests which are relevant to New Zealand and to the Commission’s work and needs.

The Commission reserves the right to determine the relevance of the proposed study/research.

Number of scholarships, tenure and value

One scholarship of $5,000 New Zealand dollars will be awarded each year and tenure will be for one year.


To be eligible to apply for a J H Aspinall Scholarship, applicants must be currently enrolled, either full time or part time, in an Honours, Masters or Doctoral programme at the University of Auckland.

Applicants may be domestic or international students.


Currently, the scholarship is awarded through the University of Auckland. Candidates who attend the University of Auckland should complete an application via the University's scholarship system.


A selection committee will be nominated, made up of represenatives of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission and the University of Auckland.

The selection criteria used by the committee will include the relevance of the proposed study/research to public access within New Zealand and the applicant’s academic and technical merits.

The University of Auckland will advise each candidate of the result of his/her application.

Scholarship Reports

Reports from both the scholar and his/her supervisor or principal lecturer must be provided. These should report on scholar’s progress and achievements in his/her study/research.

Finance and Administration

The funds for the scholarships are made available by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

Power to Vary

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission, or the selection committee with the approval of the Commission, may from time to time vary these regulations provided that such changes are consistent with the general purposes of the scholarship.

The Aspinall Family

For four generations the Aspinall family has enabled the public to have access through the family station to Mt Aspiring National Park.

The family worked closely with agencies such as the Department of Conservation and enabled free access and permission was not required. The family made land available for public facilities, including a car park, and assisted greatly with services and support such as search and rescue.

A legal road along the Matukituki River gives access to the national park but the public prefer to use a farm track which deviates in many places from the legal road line.

Mt Aspiring Station has completed tenure review and “free, certain, enduring and practical” public access is protected by an easement, as well as by the legal road.

The Aspinall family established a mutually supportive and enduring relationship with the public who enter Mount Aspiring National Park through their land. A founding Board Member of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, John Aspinall played a pivotal role in obtaining public and political support for the establishment of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission and fostered support for public access in the rural sector.


Recent recipients

Declan Weir - Tactical Urbanism: quick, cheap solutions for Auckland's pedestrians and cyclists, 2020

Holly Stevens - Greenways, property developers and the use of incentives, 2018

Alison Outram and Geoffrey N. Kerr - AccessMe concept assessment, 2017