Visit of Fraser Cowie, 74th Otaki Scholar
The Ōtaki community welcomed Fraser Cowie, the 74th Otaki Scholar, to the Kāpiti Coast on 25th July. A powhiri was held at Raukawa Marae where local dignitaries gathered to welcome Fraser in the first stage of his six week visit to New Zealand. Fraser was then taken on a tour of local sites. Afterwards he said “I can’t believe that in such a small town there is so much history to be seen at every turn, it has been a wonderful introduction to New Zealand”.On Tuesday morning Fraser became the first Otaki Scholar to lay a wreath on the SS Otaki Monument in the College grounds. The monument was unveiled earlier in the year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Otaki in WW1. It was the sinking of this Merchant Navy vessel that gave rise to the tradition of the Otaki Scholar and his annual visit to New Zealand. The formal part of Fraser’s visit continued on Wednesday afternoon as he joined Kāpiti Coast Mayor, His Worship K Gurunathan, in closing the First World War at Sea Exhibition that has been running at the Ōtaki Museum since 10th March 2017. In his closing speech Fraser talked about the WW1 events in terms of the bond that had been established between colleges and countries: “Back in Aberdeen, we recently commemorated the centenary of the sinking of the SS Otaki. On the 10th of March this year a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in front of Robert Gordon’s College. There was also a reunion of Otaki scholars - 24 scholars were present that day. I am aware of the major commemorations held here in Ōtaki to mark the centenary, reinforcing the already strong links between Scotland and New Zealand.” Fraser then thanked Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki “who are the guardians of the Ōtaki River and without whose name I would not be standing here today”.
Fraser’s planned trip to Kāpiti Island later in the week was unfortunately cancelled due to poor weather conditions, but instead he enjoyed a, albeit rather damp, round of golf and some serious Ōtaki surf in the Ōtaki Surf Lifesaving Club’s IRB. He continued his journey on Friday, flying to the South Island to be hosted by St Andrew’s College in Christchurch.