The 76th Ōtaki Scholar arrived in Ōtaki on Monday (July 15) and was welcomed with a pōwhiri at Raukawa Marae.
It was a special occasion for Rohan Mudkavi, who sees the links between Ōtaki College and his own Robert Gordon’s College as particularly special.
“Although our schools are so far apart geographically, there is still a strong connection between the two and I hope this connection lasts for years to come,” Rohan Mudkavi told Ōtaki Today before setting out for New Zealand. “Our strong relationship allows both schools to learn from one another and improve, ensuring that each school reaches its full potential. I think it’s amazing.”
Ōtaki is the first stop on a two-week trip from Aberdeen, Scotland. During this time he will travel throughout New Zealand, visiting 11 schools. He will also meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, something he said would be a highlight of his trip.
“She is somebody who I really admire and look up to, so the prospect of meeting her is amazing.”
He said before leaving Scotland that he had talked to Cameron Stephen and Jamie Seedhouse – both recent Ōtaki Scholars – who told him the people he would meet would be very kind and that the scenery was beautiful.
“I have never visited the country myself, but my parents spent a substantial period there.
“They have told me that there are a lot of similarities between Scotland and New Zealand. I look forward to seeing these parallels.”
Rohan said he had talked to some of the Ōtaki College students who had visited Robert Gordon’s College.
“However, there is still a lot I want to learn about the town.”
He believed the scholarship sent a great message to the people of Ōtaki, particularly one of unity.
“I think the fact that I am the 76th Ōtaki Scholar shows that the connection between our two countries is strong enough to have lasted a long period of time and hence will hopefully continue to last for years to come.”
The scholarship was established to honour the bravery of Captain Archibald Bisset-Smith and the crew of SS Otaki in 1915 when the Ōtaki engaged a German ship that eventually sunk it.
The captain was an old boy of Robert Gordon’s College and he married a New Zealander.
“The scholarship ensures the schools will never forget that courage,” Rohan said.