Massey Postgrad Student Awarded Earle Scholarship

19 May, 2008

Massey University postgraduate student Alistair Scarfe is one of three recipients of a Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in Technology for 2008; it was announced today by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC). Managed by Public Trust, Alistair’s scholarship is worth $20,000. The other winners are Canterbury University postgraduate student William Kelton, and Waikato University postgraduate student Lisa van den Berg.

Alistair, who was brought up in the Wairarapa and went to Kuranui College, is currently studying for his PhD in Industrial Automation based in the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology at Turitea, Palmerston North. Alistair’s thesis investigates automating fruit harvesting by means of arms and carrier systems. A prototype harvester developed as part of the project is now nearing completion.

“I am very grateful to be the recipient of the Earle Scholarship in Technology, which will enable me to complete my PhD. I hope that my research will provide the kiwifruit industry with the technology to improve harvesting and post harvest logistics and reduce losses to the industry by an estimated 20%.

“I believe that there is a real need for New Zealand to become more innovative or we face the very real danger of losing our manufacturing capacity and its related technical know how to Asia. Automation can substantially reduce labour costs to the point where we could out-perform Asian manufacturers, and this is what is driving my research”, Alistair said.

Dick and Mary Earle, who are both Emeritus Professors at Massey University, established the scholarship in 1999 to support and encourage postgraduate research into technology. The scholarship funds an individual to undertake research towards a masters or doctorate at a New Zealand university or other research institution, in one of two fields: innovation and product development, or bioprocess technology.

The scholarship was founded on the Earle’s belief that technology is important to the wellbeing and enhancement of the social fabric of the community. Dick and Mary Earle hope that through the scholarship, suitably qualified graduates will improve their own capacity to advance technology and contribute to technological knowledge relevant to New Zealand. Since 1999, 12 scholars have received funding through the scholarship to further their studies in technology.

Kiri Manuera, Scholarships Manager for the NZVCC says, “The NZVCC and Public Trust are pleased that this year’s Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in Technology has been awarded to such an ambitious and outstanding student. Alistair Scarfe was chosen from a number of very impressive applicants, and we wish him all the best for his studies and career ahead.”

The Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in Technology is one of over 40 scholarships awarded each year by the NZVCC. These include both graduate and undergraduate awards including the Claude McCarthy Fellowship, Commonwealth Scholarships, the Kitchener Memorial Scholarship, the Henry Kelsey Research Scholarship and the William Georgetti Scholarship.

This scholarship is also one of more than 400 charitable trusts (including a number of scholarships) managed by Public Trust. These trusts include interests as diverse as science, medicine, disability and agriculture. Collectively, the trusts and scholarships provide the means for many people to live better lives enhance their skills or enjoy better community facilities.

Lindsay Pope, Public Trust’s National Manager Charitable Services said, “Public Trust is very pleased that Alistair Scarfe has been awarded this year’s Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in Technology. His study supports the Earles’ vision to help improve the wellbeing of our society through technological research.”

Applications for the Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in Technology 2009 close on 1 October 2008. Application details can be found at

(Original article courtesy of