The legacy of a Waikato farmer continues to help students, with 21 Waikato school leavers this year celebrating $126,000 in scholarships from the David Johnstone Charitable Trust.

In the spirit of its benefactor, the annual awards event — now in its 23rd year — featured Olympic gold medal-winning rower Eric Murray speaking on the topic of perseverance.
It is a subject the late farmer knew a great deal about — he left school at an early age to help support his family, and channelled his lifelong dream of higher education into a charitable trust which today helps fund the tertiary education of numerous hard-working students every year.

The trust, which is managed by Perpetual Guardian, this year distributed:

■$6000 scholarships to each of seven students pursuing science degrees at the University of Waikato.
■$6000 scholarships to each of six students pursuing teaching degrees at the University of Waikato.
■$6000 scholarships to each of eight students pursuing qualifications at the Waikato Institute of Technology.

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Mr Johnstone's vision was for the trust to provide financial assistance to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to make higher academic achievements. The trust deed stipulates that funds must be used to support Waikato youth in tertiary education in the fields of science, engineering, teaching and technology.

The trust's administrators are challenging the 2019 scholarship recipients to recognise their benefactor and "pay it forward" in small ways each day, and to consider creating scholarships of their own one day, or contributing to the David Johnstone scholarships as they are able.

Associate dean academic and operations at the University of Waikato Management School, Michelle Jordan-Tong, says the scholarship selection panel was "very impressed by the academic quality of the applications and the general quality in relation to community spirit".

Waikato farmer, the late David Johnstone. Photo / Supplied
Waikato farmer, the late David Johnstone. Photo / Supplied

"In recent years we have certainly noticed more consciousness among the applicants of climate and environment issues, sustainability and caring for people.

The vision of David Johnstone is still relevant today, and the stewards of the trust are doing an awesome job of keeping it current. The university is hugely grateful to the trust for the support it gives our students in the sciences and education — and it has been such a long-term commitment."

The branch manager at Perpetual Guardian's office in Hamilton, Brendan Reidy, says: "It is a privilege to be able to help realise Mr Johnstone's dream of a higher education by awarding scholarships to these talented young people in his name."

In addition to the scholarships, the David Johnstone Charitable Trust supports development at the David Johnstone Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve, having initially given $100,000 when it was established. In 2006 $15,000 was contributed towards the building of a bridge to provide safe access to the reserve.

More recently, $20,000 per year over four years was distributed to the bush trust to assist with its development projects, with the majority of work being undertaken by volunteers, including the removal of privet and replanting, developing tracks and picnic facilities.

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The David Johnstone Pukemokemoke Bush Trust is run by four independent trustees, with Perpetual Guardian the custodian trustee.

The David Johnstone Charitable Trust has also supported the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust in its educational programme with school students, based on the mountain.

David Johnstone Charitable Trust

The 2019 scholarship recipients come from: Hauraki Plains College, St John's College, Te Kuiti High School, Waihi College, Thames High School, Sacred Heart Girls' College, Hamilton Christian School, Te Awamutu College, Otorohanga College; Forest View High, Waikato Diocesan School for Girls; Putaruru College, Taumarunui High School, Tokoroa High School.