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The Asia New Zealand Foundation initiated the Postgraduate Research Award Programme in 1997 and has generously funded it since then

Chair of Malay Studies

Victoria University

The Chair of Malay Studies at Victoria University of Wellington was inaugurated in March 1996. In 2002, the Malay Studies programme joined the Asia:NZ - NZASIA Research Awards Scheme and provides scholarships to postgraduate students working on topics related to the Malay World.

Previous Winners


Winners in 2009 of Asia:NZ - NZASIA Research Awards

Jen-Hao Chen
Johannah Cook
Nancy Earth
Aaron Prior
Ma Weijun

Jen-Hao Cheng

Jen-Hao is a doctoral student in ethnomusicology at the University of Otago. His thesis is on the taxonomy of Taiwanese aboriginal musical instruments. His research aims to find whether the musical practices of the Formosan aborigines have their own indigenous instrumental classification systems. It also seeks to understand the interplay between their culture, musical practices and performance contexts. Jen-Hao was awarded $5000, which will enable him to undertake ethnographic fieldwork in Taiwan.

Johannah Cook

Johannah is working towards her MA in Chinese at the University of Otago. Her thesis looks critically at the poetry of Cao Zhi (192 CE-232CE) who is commonly regarded as having heralded an important stage in the development of the Chinese lyric, as he demonstrates the freeing of poetry from the didactic purposes of the Confusion tradition and the evolution of a new kind of poetic individualism. Johannah was awarded $3018 which will enable her to work at the ‘Centre for Chinese Poetry’, which is a part of Anhui Normal University in Wuhu City, in Anhui Province.

Nancy Earth

Nancy is working towards her MA in Japanese at the University of Otago. Her research focuses on the contribution made by women togeika (artist-potter) to ceramics in Kagoshima (1980-present). While in the West roughly half of artist-potters are women, in Japan with few exceptions, the profession remains entrenched in male-domination. Nancy’s work will look at the role of those few women togeika in conservative Kagoshima. She was awarded $5000 to undertake research in Japan and she will explore how contemporary Kagoshima women togeika live and work.

Aaron Prior

Aaron is a Masters student at the NZ School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington. His research focuses on the musical traditions originating from the Cordillera mountain range in Luzon, the Philippines, which is the home of diverse ethno-linguistic groups, each with their own distinct cultural and musical identity. Due to urban migration communities in modern urban centres contain a diverse mix of Cordilleran cultures. Aaron’s research will focus on two musical communities: an urban based traditional performance group Simit, and an isolated rural community of Tanglag. Aaron was awarded $2200, which will help him undertake fieldwork in the Philippines.

Ma Weijun

Ma is a doctoral student at the University of Otago, working on the role of political television drama in a transforming China. His thesis looks at the political television drama as a new genre and looks at how it redefines elite culture as an intellectualized popular culture and allows for a more dynamic and fluid interaction between such a redefined elite culture and the old (also transformed) dominant culture, as well as the new rising (but also transforming) mass culture. Ma was awarded $4000 to undertake research in China.