Understanding China is essential for the future of New Zealand, according to a businessman who has funded a new scholarship at Victoria University. “We want young New Zealanders to engage with China, to understand the culture and connect with the Chinese leaders of tomorrow,” says Rodney Jones, who established the James Bertram Scholarships through the Victoria University Foundation with his wife Sajini Jesudason. An investment banker, he was a partner with the Soros Fund in Asia before returning to New Zealand.
Scholarship students will study at Victoria for a year, and then have six months language tuition in Beijing before embarking on a year’s study at Peking University. Students will graduate with a double Masters in International Relations and Public Policy from Victoria and Peking Universities respectively. There will be two James Bertram Scholarships offered annually, each worth up to $50,000.
Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University, Professor Pat Walsh, says “……it is appropriate too that the scholarships are named after the late James Bertram, a former Professor of English at Victoria University and ‘an old China hand’.” Before he became an academic at Victoria, James Bertram, the young Rhodes Scholar from Otago, visited China and became fascinated with the country. As a journalist for The Times in London, he interviewed Mao Zedong, travelled with the Eighth Route Army and also fought as a gunner in Hong Kong during the Second World War before being captured by the Japanese. He settled in New Zealand after the war and, alongside his work at Victoria, he wrote for the New Zealand Listener for many years and founded the Landfall journal with his colleague and friend, Charles Brasch.
The scholarships were launched at a function at Victoria University on 19 July, 2010. They were announced in Beijing by the Prime Minister, the Hon John Key.