Property firms ‘pay it forward’ helping students

11:00 AM Wednesday April 8, 2015 Colin Taylor

Keystone scholarship student Ingrid Schwalm-McEwan (left) is assisted by Keystone alumni Mary Henry.

The Keystone New Zealand Property Education Trust, New Zealand’s leading property scholarship fund, has announced the Russell Group has become a new key scholarship partner to support tertiary level property students.

The Russell Group, which includes Dominion Constructors, Russell Gordon Contracting, Acrow and Stresscrete will award an annual scholarship of $5000 to a student who has already undertaken some tertiary study and who would benefit from the financial support to further their studies.

The first scholarship will cover the next university year, commencing in the second semester of 2015 and will be available for applications in June 2015.

Keystone Trust now has seven key scholarship partners, 13 sponsors and six supporters comprising a virtual Who’s Who of the property sector. At any given time the trust is supporting around 20 students in their studies.

In addition to the Russell Group, other scholarship partners comprise Bayleys, Fletcher Construction, Coffey, cost planning advisors Barnes Beagley Doherr, Westfield owner and operator Scentre Group, and project management specialists Xigo.

The trust’s 13 sponsors comprise DNZ Property Fund, Bell Gully, RCP, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, ASB, Hawkins, Holmes Consulting Group, The Building Intelligence Group, AECOM, Kiwi Property, JLL, Arrow International and the Buchan Group.

The six supporters comprise The Clarity Business, Staples Rodway, PCNZ, MCA Investments, PwC, and Image Centre Group.

At the end of 2014 the trust had awarded five study awards and five key sponsor scholarships

Keystone Trust general manager Victoria McArthur says the trust gives students from challenging backgrounds a hand up into property-related tertiary studies in fields such as property, architecture, property law, engineering, planning and construction.

Keystone students - L-R Jacqueline Paul,  Samantha Fredheim & Cynthia Yuan..jpg

Putting their heads together: From left, Keystone scholarship students Jacqueline Paul, Samantha Fredheim and Cynthia Yuan. 

“Now in its 21st year, Keystone Trust provides an open door for young people to achieve careers in property when they otherwise that may have seemed a bridge too far. We believe that if exceptional young people have a dream to become part of the property and construction industry, it is our job to help them get there, irrespective of their background,” McArthur says.

Our sponsors are some of the finest organisations from the New Zealand property sector - companies which recognise the importance of paying it forward to assist in the growth of our industry”.

“We are always seeking more sponsors, because the more companies that participate, the more young people we can help. I therefore urge anyone interested to get involved, as they will get a huge amount out of their involvement with Keystone.”

The latest annual scholarship recognises the life and contribution of Russell Group founder Alf Russell, who died in 2011, having dedicated more than 50 years to the construction industry.

A highly respected figure in the construction industry in New Zealand, the late Alf Russell formed AJ Russell Bricklayers Ltd in 1965.

He was described in a Keystone statement as “a down to earth man” and “a visionary who believed strongly in the development of his people, utilising their strengths in building respectful teams”.

Alf Russell’s son Brett joined the business as an apprentice in 1981 and became joint partner in 1988.  Together they continued to grow their business and acquired other complementary companies, collectively referred to as the Russell Group of Companies.

Today, the Russell Group consists of eight family-owned private companies with separate shareholdings but all led by Brett Russell and “all with aligned values”.

Employing close on 900 people the group covers property, development, construction, product and material supply. Recent projects completed by the group include AECOM  House on Beach Rd in Auckland, Jellicoe Street & North Wharf upgrade in Wynyard Quarter,  Eden Park Redevelopment, Spring Hill Prison,  and the Mainfreight Warehouse, Terminals and Offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Karuna Hambammer, a third year engineering student at Auckland University, who spoke at a recent Keystone sponsors’ evening, said a scholarship had been “life changing” – enabling her to focus on her studies “by alleviating the stresses that come with the expense of a tertiary education”.

In addition, through Keystone, Hambammer said she had been introduced to people in a variety of property fields who are helping her with valuable advice on how to succeed once she graduates. 

Victoria McArthur, Keystone Trust general manager.jpg

Victoria McArthur, Keystone Trust general manager.