Otaki College strengthens historical connection

Students travelled to Scotland with the Airpoints™ for Schools programme to commemorate their longstanding tradition with Robert Gordon's College.

Otaki College and Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, Scotland have a strong historical connection resulting from a sea battle fought in World War 1. Since 1937, a scholarship exchange agreement has been in place between the two schools to commemorate the epic naval encounter.

Otaki College was eager to strengthen the relationship with their Scottish counterparts and through the Airpoints for Schools programme, they were able to travel to Scotland to close the physical gap between the two schools. The trip also served to improve students' understanding of historical maritime events and encouraged deep learning through exposure to different places and contexts that are not normally accessible to them.

Otaki College students first travelled from Wellington to London for an action-packed programme designed in conjunction with members of the Durham Association and UK Mariners' Association. Students visited the historic ship HQS Wellington moored on the River Thames.

The vessel is a floating maritime museum and students had the opportunity to participate in a two-hour simulated convoy scenario. The itinerary also involved a viewing of the private collection of P&O ships, a walking tour of Greenwich including both the dockside and British Naval Museums, being hosted by Raukawa George Fergusson (ex-British High Commissioner to New Zealand) and afternoon tea with Sir Jerry Mateparae at the New Zealand High Commission.

A trip highlight for the young students was attending the Lion King live show at London's West End.

Moving on from London, the students enjoyed a four-day tour taking in the breath-taking scenery of the Isle of Sky and the Scottish Highlands, home to ancient castles and historic places. Following this was two days in Edinburgh where the young Kiwis visited Edinburgh Castle and witnessed the march of over 100,000 Scots wanting independence and to remain within the European Union. The colour and national pride on display will certainly be remembered.

The final leg of the journey took the Otaki College pupils to Aberdeen to be hosted by Robert Gordon's College. They were engaged in assemblies, visits to classrooms and surrounding places of interest, including Aberdeen Gaol Tower, the Maritime Museum and the surrounding countryside where they participated in outdoor activities. Students learnt a significant amount of information about the connection between Robert Gordon's College and Otaki College, and about the importance of the Merchant Navy in World War 1.

The highlight of their time in Aberdeen was the connection on a personal level with staff, students and host families from Robert Gordon's College – the visit has strengthened their inter-school relationship and served to grow their tradition further with the possibility of Otaki College hosting a major exchange in return.

"The Airpoints for Schools trip was a once in a lifetime experience that opened my eyes to all of the amazing opportunities there are for us overseas. I formed connections and links with people on the other side of the world that will allow me to learn more about their culture and ways of life. The trip also strengthened the connection between Robert Gordon’s College and Otaki College." - Andeana Hakaraia, Year 12 Student at Otaki College