Scholarship seeks to push indigenous voice to the forefront of NZ architecture

As the largest Polynesian city in the world, Auckland presents a noticeable lack of Māori and Pacific representation in its architecture. This scholarship, and its incentive to study the subject, could contribute real cultural rewards for New Zealand.

The Jasmax Waka Māia team, CEO Sjoerd Post and senior leadership welcome scholarship recipient, Jessika Varney
The Jasmax Waka Māia team, CEO Sjoerd Post and senior leadership welcome scholarship recipient, Jessika Varney

Scholarships have the potential to change lives. If you're a student, it's never a bad idea to apply for one. For successful applicants, the financial support and career opportunities you'll receive can soften the financial burden of your studies and provide you with a headstart in your future profession. 

The Jasmax Scholarship for Māori and Pacific Students was established in 2019. As one of New Zealand's leading architecture and design firms, Jasmax is funding the scholarship in a drive to push for more Māori and Pacific architecture students, helping to downsize the price tag that can come with a university education. 

Promising Bachelor of Architectural Studies student Jessika Varney is the first fortunate recipient of the Jasmax scholarship. Jessika grew up in Lynfield, Auckland and is of Ngāti Kahu, Ngā Puhi, Ngātiwai, and Ngāti Whātua descent. She attended Lynfield College where she excelled in visual art and photography.

The Jasmax scholarship enables me to contribute to course fees, transport and living costs, course materials and stationery, as well as new devices and accessories without relying on other people, or accumulating too much debt.

Jessika Varney

Jasmax Scholarship for Māori and Pacific Students' first recipient, Jessika Varney
Jasmax Scholarship for Māori and Pacific Students' first recipient, Jessika Varney

At Jasmax, 52% of architectural graduates and designers hail from the University's School of Architecture and Planning. As part of her scholarship, Jessika will also have the opportunity to undertake an annual two-week internship with the company, when she will shadow and participate in project work, and spend valuable time with the Waka Maia team. 

"I am honoured to have received this scholarship from Jasmax. It has not only been an incredible financial help, but it has also provided me with the ease of mind to pursue my Bachelor of Architectural Studies to the best of my abilities. It's so awesome to see more opportunities for Māori and Pacifika students and actually be a part of it."

During her studies, Jessika is looking forward to exploring indigenous design with a view to addressing climate biodiversity and housing issues. She hopes that her degree will see her opening her own architectural and interior design business where she can implement all she has learned from her studies, and time spent at Jasmax.

Providing $5,000 per year for up to five years of study, plus the opportunity to build a professional network, this scholarship is not to be sniffed at. 

Professor Deidre Brown (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kāhu), the world's first Māori Professor of Architecture and Head of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland commented:

"It is vital that practitioners in professions such as architecture are representative of the society in which they work and whose environments – personal and public – they shape." 

Jasmax's support of Māori and Pasifika students through their degree and into practice is an essential strategy to ensure that more Māori practitioners and design processes enter the industry. The scholarship itself carries great mana, and the School of Architecture and Planning is greatly appreciative of Jasmax's support for this kaupapa, the School's mission, and the scholarship's recipient and, by extension, their whānau.

Professor Deidre Brown

Jessika Varney and Jasmax CEO Sjoerd Post
Jessika Varney and Jasmax CEO Sjoerd Post

CEO of Jasmax, Sjoerd Post explained the logic behind the scholarship with the University lies in the company's desire to grow the māna whenua and the Pasifika voice in design conversations.

At Jasmax, we believe that Te Tiriti o Waitangi between māna whenua and tangata tiriti offers a powerful opportunity to create architecture and design that is unique to Aotearoa.

Sjoerd Post Jasmax

With the support of Jasmax and the School of Architecture and Planning, more students from Māori and Pacific backgrounds can now achieve their potential and contribute to the preservation and continuation of New Zealand's indigenous landscape and architecture. 

If you're eligible, then apply now, because the future of New Zealand architecture is waiting for you!


Applications for this year's Jasmax Scholarship for Māori and Pacific students close on Thursday 4 February 2021. If you're a Māori or Pacific student enrolling in the first year of a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, then you still have time to apply for this exciting scholarship to help fund your studies.

Apply now

Article author

Kate Sumner | Content Writer