|Fri 10 Mar 2017, 10:15am–11:55am|
10.15am (for 10.30am start), 10th March 2017
The unveiling of a memorial at Ōtaki College by Her Excellency The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand Te Kāwana Tianara o Aotearoa.
The monument to be unveiled commemorates the centenary of the sinking of the New Zealand Shipping Company vessel SS Otaki by the German auxiliary cruiser Moewe on the 10th of March 1917.
The battle between the Otaki and Moewe was unique in that the Otaki’s Master, Captain Bissett Smith, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. However, what makes it particularly special is that in 1937, to honour the Master’s connection with New Zealand (as well as sailing for the New Zealand Company, he had married a Dunedin woman in 1914), the New Zealand Shipping Company funded the Head Boy from Smith’s school (Robert Gordon's College) in Aberdeen, Scotland, (the Otaki Scholar), to visit New Zealand. The New Zealand government funded the Otaki Scholar’s stay in this country. And every year since then, apart from during the Second World War, the Otaki Scholar has visited New Zealand; spending some time in Ōtaki. Since 2013, an Ōtaki College student has participated in a reciprocal scholarship, known as the Sander Scholar.
As well as acknowledging the loss of the SS Otaki the ceremony, to be held at Ōtaki College, will recognise:
● the role of the Merchant Navy in the First World War
● the relationship between Ōtaki and Ōtaki College and Robert Gordon's College and Aberdeen
● the relationship between the local iwi (Ngati Raukawa) and the Otaki Scholar.
The ceremony is also planned to provide a First World War centenary occasion that will have significance and relevance within the Kapiti region.
In addition to the ceremonies at Ōtaki College, a First World War maritime related exhibition – The First World War at Sea – will be opened at 12.30 pm in the Ōtaki Museum, 49 Main Street, Ōtaki.
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