On 12 March 2021, Ōtaki College once again welcomed distinguished guests to its SS Otaki Commemoration. Represented were local government, Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, the Ōtaki Returned and Services Association, the Merchant Navy Association and related organisations, the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
In addition to the above, wreaths were laid by the German Ambassador, His Excellency Stefan Krawielicki, and by Mr Simon Bull, Second Secretary, British High Commission.
Guest speaker at the Commemoration was Deputy Chief of Navy, Commodore Melissa Ross. Both Commodore Ross and Principal, Andy Fraser, spoke about the need for young people to demonstrate courage and resilience in their daily lives. Mr Fraser summed this up with the words "While courage may be required to start a journey, often, even greater courage is required to see it through to its conclusion."
The origins of the SS Otaki ceremony lie in 2017, when it was first held to mark the centenary of the sinking of the New Zealand Shipping Company vessel, SS Otaki, named after the river that flows through the township, by the German ship SMS Moewe. While the Commemoration highlights the importance of the Merchant Navy, in peace and in war, it also serves to celebrate the relationship between Ōtaki College and Robert Gordon's College in Scotland.
Mr Fraser announced at the ceremony that this relationship was now secured for many years to come, by means of a new scholarship fund. He said that the College wished to acknowledge Mr George (Geordie) Fergusson and Sir Graeme Catto, Chair of the Ex Otaki Scholars, for their part in establishing the Everiss Scholarship Fund. He also wished to thank other interested parties, including Babcock International Group, for their generous donations. The Everiss Scholarship Fund would allow the continuation of the tradition, established by the Sander Scholarship and generously funded for the last 8 years by Sander Ties, of an Ōtaki College student travelling to Aberdeen, Scotland each year.
Mr Fraser explained that the new Scholarship is named after Pilot Officer Carlyle Everiss, a New Zealand spitfire pilot killed in the Second World War in Cowie, Scotland. He said that it was hoped that the Everiss Scholarship, through its links with the British Royal Air Force, the town of Cowie and the Stirling region, would allow an expansion of the Sander Scholarship to include other areas of Scotland, and possibly, in time, Germany.