John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship
The John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship is for eminent Americans to come to New Zealand on high profile visits for speaking and teaching engagements. Awards valued at up to NZ$30,000 are granted on an occasional basis, on the invitation of a working group consisting of representative from Fulbright New Zealand, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the US Embassy in New Zealand.Following the death of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 it was felt in New Zealand that a memorial to this highly respected and popular United States President should be established. The Prime Minister, Keith Holyoake, announced on 26 November that The John F. Kennedy Memorial Fund would be established as a permanent memorial to the life and work of the President. In a statement to the press on 12 December the Prime Minister announced Mrs Kennedy’s approval of the plan, and appealed for public contributions. Ultimately £15,000 was raised publicly and when added to the initial New Zealand Government contribution of £15,000 gave a total of £30,000.Until May 1973 the Trust was administered by the New Zealand Department of External Affairs/Ministry of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Prime Minister of the day. Difficulties in identifying suitable candidates for the Fellowship meant that the Board of the NZ-US Educational Foundation (Fulbright New Zealand) was asked to become the Board of Trustees of the Fellowship.The fund was established “for the purpose of bringing eminent Americans to New Zealand for speaking and teaching engagements in honour of the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy”. Those invited are chosen for their capacity to contribute towards a closer understanding between the peoples of the United States and New Zealand, and their ability to illuminate the ideals and purposes to which John F Kennedy dedicated his life.
There have been 18 John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellows in the years the Fellowship has been operational. The first Fellow was Theodore C Sorrensen who had been an assistant to President Kennedy and had worked closely with him. The second Fellow was Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court. Subsequent Kennedy Fellows have come from the fields of architecture, civil rights, foreign policy, literature, history, education and economics.