Admiral Sir Gordon Tait Scholarship helps Timaru boys pursue ambitions
Scholarships enabling aspiring young students from Timaru Boys’ High School to pursue tertiary studies at the University of Canterbury have been made possible through the generosity of Philippa, Lady Tait.
Philippa, Lady Tait and Admiral Sir Gordon Tait at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, UK, in 1971. (Photo: Supplied by the Tait family)
The Admiral Sir Gordon Tait Scholarship, established by Lady Tait in 2008, honours the memory of her late husband and fulfils one of his wishes – to support and inspire young men from Timaru Boys’ High School (TBHS) to study at the University of Canterbury (UC). Lady Tait’s 2020 donation ensures the scholarship award will continue in perpetuity, creating a legacy of support for TBHS students to study at UC. She says Sir Gordon liked the idea of being able to support boys of talent to further their studies without a heavy financial burden.
Sir Gordon attended TBHS as a pupil from 1935 to 1939, where his father Allan, a UC graduate, taught from 1913 to 1925 and became the Rector in 1935. Sir Gordon immersed himself in school life, participating in rugby, cricket, athletics and swimming, performing in the school’s brass band and acting in the drama club. He showed great leadership potential in his teenage years and was a House Prefect, School Prefect and the Head of House.
TBHS students recognise Sir Gordon as the school’s most distinguished military Old Boy. The well-known Tait name links Rector Allan Tait with his sons, Gordon and Jim, both noted for their naval service in World War 2.
Leaving New Zealand in early 1939, Sir Gordon joined the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in the United Kingdom, aged 17 as a Special Entry Cadet. After war broke out, he served at sea in the Royal Navy. He earned his Distinguished Service Cross for “courage, coolness in action and skill as a gunnery control officer” while serving in wartime submarine patrols in the Mediterranean. Promotion came rapidly. He was appointed commander of the 3rd Submarine Squadron, then as Chief of Staff for the Submarine Command and Captain of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.