Visit by 73rd Otaki Scholar, Jamie Seedhouse

On Monday 25th July the Ōtaki Community gathered at Raukawa Marae to welcome Jamie Seedhouse, the 73rd Ōtaki Scholar, to the town. Ōtaki is the first stop on Jamie’s six week tour of New Zealand. In the afternoon André Baker, together with Ōtaki College Head Boy, Krunal Modi, Head Girl, Cassie Lundie, and the Associate Heads of School accompanied Jamie on a tour of the town’s major sites of historical and cultural significance.The Ōtaki Scholar is the Captain (Head Boy) of Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, Scotland. Each year the Head Boy travels to New Zealand on a scholarship set up to commemorate the events around the sinking of the SS Ōtaki, a New Zealand Shipping Company owned vessel, in WW1 and the bravery of her Captain. The SS Otaki's Captain, Archibald Bisset-Smith, demonstrated extreme bravery in battle and refused to leave his sinking ship after she was destroyed by a German raider. Captain Bisset-Smith, a past pupil of Robert Gordon’s College, was posthumously awarded a VC for his bravery.

On Tuesday, a whakatau was held at Ōtaki College for Jamie and seven new International students. Jamie then mingled with College students and was taken on a tour of the school. In the afternoon he was able to experience the thrills of an IRB ride in the Ōtaki surf, courtesy of the Pete Housiaux and the Ōtaki Surf Club. Dinner followed at a local restaurant with the families of the Ōtaki College Head Boy and Girl, the Principal and DP and Captain Roger Blake, a member of the Durham Association.

Wednesday was a more relaxed day, with College staff taking Jamie, a keen golfer, out for a game at the Ōtaki Golf Club. It was then time for a tour of Paraparaumu including Southwards Car Museum, before being shown around the Ōtaki Museum by Rex Kerr, past Principal of Ōtaki College and author of “A Ship, A Man & A Boy". Ten Pin Bowling with the Ōtaki College Heads of School wrapped up the day.

On Thursday Jamie potentially made Otaki Scholar history by being the first Scholar to jet boat up the Ōtaki River. At the conclusion of this exhilarating experience, courtesy again of Pete Housiaux, he will continue his tour of the country, flying to Blenheim where he will visit Marlborough Boys’ College.

Ōtaki College staff and students have thoroughly enjoyed hosting Jamie. His relaxed, friendly nature was much enjoyed by the Heads of School and his host families. Principal, Andy Fraser, said “It has again been a pleasure to host yet another fine young man from Robert Gordon's College. It is a continual reminder that out of the sadness war came the Ōtaki Shield to commemorate the loss of Archibald Bisset-Smith VC and through this act an enduring tradition has developed between two countries and colleges. Long may this tradition last as it celebrates young people who continue to exhibit values similar to those of Archibald Bisset-Smith.

View photos of Jamie's visit.

See the video of Jamie in an IRB.