Otaki Scholar/Sander Scholar/Everiss Scholar
The Otaki Shield - a Scottish-based scholarship awarded to the head boy of Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen - rewards an outstanding pupil at the end of their final year with a seven-week trip to to travel through New Zealand visiting schools and sightseeing. A reciprocal scholarship was established at Ōtaki College in 2013 - the Sander Scholarship. This is awarded to an outstanding Ōtaki College school leader, allowing the Scholar to travel to Scotland for two weeks in January following graduation. The Everiss Scholarship was established in 2021 to ensure that this tradition could be carried on in future years.
During his time here, the Otaki Scholar is hosted by families in the North and South islands. He attends a number of colleges (including Ōtaki College) and acts as an ambassador as well as addressing students on the history behind the scholarship.
The scholarship commemorates a sea battle fought in the Atlantic during World War 1, involving Capt Archibald Bisset Smith, a former pupil of Robert Gordons College. The New Zealand Shipping Company merchant ship SS Ōtaki 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 Archibald Bisset Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and devotion to duty and in 1937 his family presented the Ōtaki Shield to the college, to be given annually to the school's head boy.
The New Zealand Shipping Company traditionally offered a free passage to the winner but the New Zealand Government now assists with air fares and some accommodation.
2020 saw the fruition of a plan to hand over the mantle (or in this case korowai) of the Sander Scholar. The College owes huge thanks to Sander Ties for single handedly funding the scholarship for eight years. It was agreed by all parties, however, that a more sustainable plan was necessary to ensure the continuation of the scholarship into the future.
To this end Ōtaki College Principal, Andy Fraser, worked with ex British Diplomat, George “Raukawa” Fergusson, the Principal of Robert Gordon’s College, and several ex Otaki Scholars to set up a trust fund, the interest from which would continue into the future to fund a scholarship for an Ōtaki College student to travel to Robert Gordon’s College in Scotland each year.
It was decided to name this scholarship after Carlyle Gray Everiss in honour of his heroism in WWII and strengthen our links with Scotland.
Carlyle Gray Everiss was born in Gisborne on 3 December 1914. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and began pilot training in January 1941. After gaining his pilot’s wings in Canada, Everiss was sent to the United Kingdom and was posted to No. 58 Operational Training Unit at Grangemouth, beside the Firth of Forth in central Scotland.
Everiss, with another pilot, was returning from an air combat exercise on 2 October 1941 when the engine of his Spitfire stalled over the mining village of Cowie, about 10 km from Grangemouth. With his crippled plane heading straight for a tightly packed row of houses, Everiss refused to bail out and made a desperate attempt to gain altitude. While he managed to clear the village his plane was thrown into an uncontrollable tailspin and crashed into railway sidings at a nearby coal mine. Villagers were able to pull Everiss from the burning wreckage but the young pilot died shortly afterwards and was buried in Grangemouth (Grandsable) Cemetery.
Exerpt from 'New Zealand pilot saves Scottish village', (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 19-Jan-2017
2021 will be the first year in which Everiss Scholarship is presented.
It is hoped that the Everiss Scholarship will also allow an expansion of the Sander Scholarship through its links with the British Royal Air Force, the town of Cowie and the Stirling region including Bannockburn College and Stirling Castle.
In 2013 Ōtaki College, with funding from local business, The Sander Tie Company, set up its own scholarship to send a Head Student to Scotland in the December holidays. This Scholarship is one of the College’s premier awards and each of the students to whom it has been awarded has come away better for their experience. It has inspired them to pursue their life goals and given them a determination to travel and grow their understanding of the world around them.
2012: 69th Otaki Scholar