• EIT wine student honours father with scholarship in his name

EIT wine student honours father with scholarship in his name

A new scholarship for students studying for EIT’s Graduate Diploma of Oenology (Wine Science) has been established by a current student who wants to honour his father with a trophy in his name.

Nitin Deobhakta, who has been enrolled in the Graduate Diploma programme this year, has set up The Dr Deobhakta Scholarship, which will be awarded to a top student at each EIT Graduation Ceremony for ten years. Sixty-year-old Nitin, who practised law in Hamilton for thirty years, moved temporarily to Napier with his wife Sadhna this year to study at EIT.

“I did my research, and I came to the view that EIT is probably the most elite programme for students, and it has a tremendous balance between academia and practical experience. I felt that internationally EIT would stand out from the other New Zealand courses.”

Nitin says his father, Dr Vasant Deobhakta, who is 93-years-old, emigrated to New Zealand from India in the 1980s after studying in England and being made a member of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. When he moved to New Zealand, Dr Deobhakta, together with his anaesthetist wife Zarina, spent almost all of his working life as a GP and medical consultant in Hawera.

“I wanted to honour my father who was a student in India, where the kids basically had to look after themselves. They had to clean their own toilets and there was limited food, so Dad had quite an austere upbringing in India,” says Nitin. 

“I just wanted to give him some mana, some honour.”

Nitin says he had intended starting the scholarship in India, but it became too difficult to set up administratively. He also looked at starting one in Auckland and has been thinking about it for nearly a decade.

“When I started studying at EIT earlier this year, some of the students mentioned to staff that they were struggling financially and probably could not afford to go on our field trip to Marlborough. So, I suggested to my wife that we start a scholarship for someone who needs it.”

The first recipient of the scholarship will be selected next year and awarded the prize at graduation in 2023. The programme co-ordinator of the Graduate Diploma, Dr Cryn Russell, will select the winner each year.

The student will receive $1,000 towards their studies and have their name engraved on a trophy, which will be on display at EIT’s Hawke’s Bay Campus. The student will receive a smaller version of the trophy to keep. Each year, Nitin and Sadhna will return to Napier to present the trophy.

The trophy, which is being made at an aluminium factory in New Plymouth owned by Nitin’s brother-in-law, will be pyramid-shaped with a one kilogram silver coin from the Royal Mint as a base.

“I'm working with the chief engineer there to construct a trophy that's going to be aesthetically beautiful. The reason we are using coins is that Dad was a collector of coins for over 40 years, but the coins he collected were what you call commemorative. They weren't valuable. So I bought nine coins in his honour, and they are collectable coins.”

The Head of EIT’s School of Viticulture and Wine Science, Sue Blackmore says: “The Viticulture and Wine Science team is thrilled to have this new prize honouring not only Dr Deobhakta but also commemorating Nitin's year of study at EIT. This will be a worthy prize for future students’ high achievement.”

Nitin, who also has a MBA, says the trophy would cap a wonderful experience studying at EIT.

“I'm not saying that I'm a top student. I'm certainly not, but I've had the time of my life.”

His focus for the future is firmly on wine and his aspiration is to be an Associate Wine Judge, which he has had experience in this year.

Beyond that, Nitin and Sadhna want to travel to France and potentially work in the Bordeaux region.

“I would expect to start out as a cellar hand, which means cleaning barrels, hosing and harvest. I'm more than up to the job of starting right at the bottom.”