Work is under way to ensure the permanence of Ōtaki College’s Sander Scholarship.
Shelley Macrae of Sander Ties has committed her company to supporting the award as it stands, as long as Sander is still operating. The company was established in 1921.
However, college principal Andy Fraser says that with Shelley’s support, he wanted to find a way of locking in the scholarship for future generations of students.
On a trip with students to the UK in 2018, Andy discussed the issue with George Fergusson, the former British High Commissioner to New Zealand who has strong links to Ōtaki. He has even been honoured with a chieftainship of Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga.
George responded by raising £50,000 through his contacts. Key among them was former Ōtaki Scholar Sir Graeme Catto, who contacted other former scholars and raised a large part of the total. British ship-building firm Babcocks, which refits New Zealand Navy ships at Auckland, has also made a big contribution, and law firm Chapman Tripp has donated its services for the legal issues.
While the final details are still to be worked out, it’s likely the new award, to be known as the Everiss Scholarship, will be awarded to an Ōtaki College student next year. It’s hoped the student will have the opportunity to travel to the UK, depending on the Covid-19 situation.
The scholarship will be administered by a trust is to be named after a New Zealand Spitfire pilot of the Second World War, Carlyle Everiss. His heroics are memorialised at Cowie, about two hours’ drive from Aberdeen, Scotland (see separate story).
That has meant Britain’s Royal Air Force is also keen to be involved, adding to the naval connection through the Ōtaki Scholar, which honours Archibald Bisset Smith VC, the captain of SS Otaki in the First World War.
The trustees of the new Everiss Scholarship include Sir Graeme Catto, George Fergusson, Ōtaki College benefactor Chris Parkin, Shelley Macrae (who will continue to support the scholarship through Sander Ties), and the principal of Ōtaki College and headmaster of Robert Gordon’s colleges.Andy says the trusteeship of the college heads is important.
“It means that regardless of who comes into those positions, they can’t walk away from the tradition.”
Meanwhile, the recipient of the 2020 Sander Scholarship will not get the traditional trip to Scotland, but will instead go to a life-changing Outward Bound course for three weeks.
Covid-19 has severely disrupted the college overseas scholarship schemes. This year’s Ōtaki Scholar has also not been able to visit New Zealand, the first time since the Second World War. The head Boy of Robert Gordon’s College (RGC) in Aberdeen automatically becomes the Ōtaki Scholar.
The award includes a visit to Ōtaki and other parts of New Zealand in July. The scholarship has been awarded every year since 1937, bar a break during the war. The scholarship has been awarded every year since 1937, bar a break during the war when the scholars were unable to travel to New Zealand.
Head boy this year is Patrick Robinson.
Andy says Education Minister Chris Hipkins has sent Patrick a pounamu taonga and letter to recognise Patrick’s achievement. The Durham Association, representing the merchant navy, has also sent a gift. Ōtaki College is having a special carving done to send, along with a book of photographs and notes from most of the schools that would have hosted Patrick.
The reciprocal Sander Scholar, sponsored by Ōtaki’s Sander Ties since 2013, will be announced at this year’s prize-giving. It usually includes a trip to Britain, with time at Robert Gordon’s.