University of Otago student Ben Ayto (17), a resident of
Knox College, has a scholarship to Duke University, in
North Carolina. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
University of Otago student Ben Ayto has been awarded a
national scholarship, amounting to $280,000 over four years, to
undertake further study in the United States.
Mr Ayto (17), who is studying for a conjoint LLB/BA degree at
the University of Otago, has received a Robertson Scholarship
to study at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
The scholarship is funded by New York philanthropist Julian
Mr Ayto, who was born in Wellington and attended Wellington
College, has been studying the Chinese language for the past
five years, and has won a national Chinese speaking
He was yesterday ''excited'' about his scholarship success,
which was yet to fully sink in.
''I'm still in a state of disbelief. I have to take it bit by
bit and break it down.''
He would complete his first semester studies at Otago by
And, in August, he would begin four years of study at Duke
University, most likely for a BA in philosophy, politics,
economics, Asian studies and art.
For the first time last year, China became New Zealand's
leading export destination.
Mr Ayto said that, given the importance of the trading links
between the two nations, there was also a need to further
deepen mutual understanding through more cultural links.
Asia was facing ''myriad challenges'' , including poverty and
uneven development among its population, and he wanted to
explore how his passions for art, culture and technology
could be used to achieve meaningful change in the region.
Mr Ayto represented New Zealand at the Global Positioning
Leaders' Forum in China last year.
He was interested in the way not-for-profit social enterprise
initiatives, including those involving arts and crafts, could
support and promote culture and improve family incomes and
He last year visited an arts-related Beijing-based social
enterprise, the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art.
It is understood he is one of four people with Dunedin
connections to have gained a Robertson Scholarship, the
others being former John McGlashan College pupil Oliver
Wilson (2008), and Otago University student Tom Prebble,
previously of Auckland, and Jamie Band, the latter of John
McGlashan, both in 2012.