Saint Kentigern welcomes Otaki Scholar

September 04, 2014 at 12:32 PM

This week, Saint Kentigern welcomed Hamish Atkins, Head Boy of Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, Scotland and recipient of the 71st Otaki Scholarship.

The scholarship commemorates an act of bravery during World War 1 and is awarded to the Head Boy at the end of their final year with a six week trip to travel throughout New Zealand.

The history behind the scholarship lies in a sea battle that was fought in the Atlantic during the war and involved heroic actions by Capt Archibald Bisset Smith, a former pupil of Scotland’s Robert Gordons College.

The vessel Capt Smith was on was a New Zealand Shipping Company merchant ship, SS Otaki which was critically damaged in March 1917 by a German raider and Capt Smith ordered the ship's evacuation before he went down with the vessel.

Capt Smith was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and devotion to duty and in 1937 his family presented the Otaki Shield to the Robert Gordon’s College, to be given annually to the school's head boy.

Two years later, to honour his connection with New Zealand, the New Zealand shipping company added a travelling scholarship to the prize. Every year since then, with the exception of the Second World War years, the Otaki Scholar has visited New Zealand, initially by cargo vessel, only flying since 2000.

During Hamish’s trip, he has visited schools throughout the country, acting as an ambassador to keep the story of the Otaki and its crew alive by retelling the history of the scholarship.

Read more about the history of the scholarship here:



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