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Source: University of Canterbury

The late Emeritus Professor Peter Holland, who was a leading expert in biogeography and environmental change, has left a bequest of over $1million that will benefit science research at the University of Canterbury for generations to come. Starting next year, the bequest will fund scholarship support for two full-time Māori or Pasifika postgraduate students in Ecology or Environmental Science at UC.

Growing up in South Canterbury, Peter Holland enjoyed family camping trips and expeditions into the wilderness with his younger brother and parents Stan and Jessie. These experiences kindled his love of the natural world and paved his way to studying geography at the University of Canterbury (UC), where he graduated with a Master’s degree in 1963.

Curious about the world, he completed a PhD in Australia, and travelled and worked extensively in other countries before resuming his academic career in New Zealand, at UC and the University of Otago. Professor Holland was a well-liked and respected adjunct member of staff at UC.

Throughout his illustrious research career, Aotearoa’s changing landscapes were a key interest. Professor Holland had a long association with the New Zealand Geographical Society, which recognised him with an Honorary Life Fellowship in 2013. Colleagues fondly remember the professor, who was highly regarded by both students and staff.

By gifting a significant bequest of $1.1 million to UC, Professor Holland has helped secure a bright future for postgraduate science research, with the bequest used to establish the Stan and Jessie Holland Memorial Scholarship in Ecology and Environmental Science. 

“These generous scholarships mean so much to our students and make a material difference to their studies. Scholarships such as these support our commitment to creating opportunities for a new generation of leaders who will make a truly positive impact on the world,” says UC’s Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae Professor Cheryl de la Rey.

Two scholarships will be available annually, with the first award to be announced in March 2021. Applicants must be of Māori or Pasifika descent.

“The substantial bequest is poised to lift UC’s national and international research profile, and will also positively impact on long-term academic development,” says UC’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori | Amokapua Māori, Dr Darryn Russell. “It is a thoughtful gift that fosters the University’s ethos of excellence, relevance and impact along with kotahitanga, and will make a significant contribution to UC’s resolve in addressing global sustainability challenges.”

Bequests like this support the University of Canterbury’s ongoing research aspirations and contribute towards significant advances that are of wider benefit to New Zealand society. Those interested in learning more about how to make a bequest can go to: