Otaki Scholar/Sander 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.
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.
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.