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2023 Sir James Wattie scholar announced

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on December 13, 2023

Descendants of Sir James Wattie joined Ryman Healthcare and the Eastern Institute of Technology’s (EIT) School of Business in congratulating this year’s winner of the Scholarship set up in their grandfather’s name at a wonderful event today (Wednesday 13th December).

EIT student of business Ethan Wynne was announced the winner of the $15,000 scholarship by Ryman’s New Zealand CEO, Cheyne Chalmers, with the award being set up by the company in honour of the legendary Hawke’s Bay entrepreneur Sir James Wattie.

Also in attendance at the Havelock North Function Centre was Ethan’s partner and family, Her Worship the Mayor of Hastings, Sandra Hazlehurst, last year’s scholarship recipient Jessie Hawkes-Pearce plus residents and team members from Ryman’s James Wattie Retirement Village.


Cheyne told the impressive story of Sir James, about how he had seen an opportunity to use discarded fruit for jam which later grew into a business that made Watties a household name.

This legacy is what inspired the scholarship as well as the naming of Ryman Healthcare’s retirement village in Havelock North.

Later, his grandson Bruce Wattie talked about what impressions his grandfather had left him with.

“His three key attributes were self-motivation and drive; he was a people person – I still hear from people who worked for him about how he used to come around and talk to everyone; and then hard work – it wasn’t through good luck that he made a success of the business, it was through sheer hard work,” Bruce said.

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Sir James Wattie's grandson Bruce Wattie explains what the Wattie name means to him.

Shortly before Cheyne officially announced Ethan as this year's scholarship recipient, John West, the EIT’s Head of School - Business, explained how they had come to choose their scholar, saying his application had ‘ticked all the scholarship’s boxes’.

“But it was his authentic, down to earth, deserving attitude exhibited during the short-listing interview which helped confirm he was the deserved recipient of the Sir James Wattie Scholarship for 2023.”

John said Ryman Healthcare’s support was ‘transformative’ for award recipients and their whanau.

“The financial injection not only provides peace of mind, but opens up doors of opportunity which may not have been within the realm of possibility previously.

“This support – and the recognition that follows – helps uplift recipients and their families, and truly encapsulates the Ryman difference of ‘the future, you’re good’.

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Ethan with last year's scholarship recipient Jessie Hawkes-Pearce (above) and (below) flanked by Ryman Healthcare's NZ CEO Cheyne Chalmers (left) and Mayor of Hastings District, Sandra Hazlehurst.

IMG_9025 (Large)Accepting the award, Ethan told how his close-knit family had been the key to his success after a tough start in life, being 10 weeks premature and having meningitis when he was 18 months old.

“I know there must have been some great contenders for this scholarship so to be awarded it is truly an honour and I cannot thank you enough.

“I really want to live and work overseas and I promise to work hard and keep you all updated on my adventures.”

Cheyne said Ethan was a remarkable young man with a bright future.

“Ethan is a very deserving winner and we hope this scholarship will inspire him and other business students to succeed as future entrepreneurs with their own special visions, just like Sir James Wattie did before them,” she said.

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Back row: Programme Coordinator of the Bachelor of Business Studies programme at EIT’s School of Business, Russell Booth, Ethan Wynne’s father Jason Wynne, grandson and great grandson of Sir James Wattie, Bruce Wattie and Isaac Scott, Dean of EIT - John West.

Front row: Ethan’s partner Courtney Moody, mother Katrina Wynne and twin sister Jasmine and Ryman Healthcare’s NZ CEO Cheyne Chalmers.

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Ethan with, from left, his uncle Tony White, grandparents Alan and Carol Clegg and aunt Lyn Brown, who he credited with giving him extra love and support throughout his life.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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