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Overseas bound . . . Former St Kevin's College pupil Oliver Hailes, a Wellington-based barrister and solicitor, has been awarded a Woolf Fisher Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A former Oamaru man will study at one of the world’s most prestigious universities after being awarded a top-level scholarship.

Oliver Hailes, a former St Kevin’s College pupil, was recently a recipient of the Woolf Fisher Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in England.

The scholarship, which covers study and living costs at the university, is estimated to have a value of $300,000 for each scholar and is considered one of the most generous scholarships available to New Zealand students.

For Mr Hailes (25), who holds a bachelor of arts in politics and bachelor of law degree with first-class honours from the University of Otago, said the news he would get to study at Cambridge was overwhelming.

“It was a strange day insofar as we found out on the afternoon following the interview, so it was a stressful couple of hours,” he told the Oamaru Mail

“It took a while to sink in. I felt excitement and disbelief, I suppose, because it is really an enviable opportunity.”

The barrister and solicitor, presently a judge’s clerk in the Court of Appeal, will begin with corporate law firm Chapman Tripp next year before pursuing his studies.

In his first year at Cambridge, he will study towards a master of law focusing on international investment law, international environmental law, the economics of law and regulation and the law of the World Trade Organisation.

For the next three years, Mr Hailes will undertake a doctoral research programme to complete a PhD.

His interest lies in developing domestic and global legal structures that will allow governing institutions to tackle major economic, social and environmental issues facing the world.

He wants to break down institutional barriers that address social injustice and climate change.

“I’ll be there for about four years, so it’s a little bit scary to think that’s where I’ll be,” he said of Cambridge.

“I’m very excited about it, and I’m in conversation with various alumni about selecting colleges and confirming the papers I’ll be taking in the first year, which is the masters year.”

Mr Hailes believed his time at St Kevin’s had prepared him well for his chosen career.

“I think, looking back, one thing that helped in particular would be exploring your full range of interests and trying new things, and receiving support and encouragement throughout for the sort of things that might not be available at other schools, like a certain sport or other extra-curricular activities.”

He was thankful for the messages of congratulations he’d received from the school and people in Oamaru.

“It’s nice to know you’ve got their support.”

Mr Hailes also volunteers for Kaibosh Food Rescue, Generation Zero and the Social Change Collective (law and policy research on housing) and contributes to Kenya’s Give Directly Universal Basic Income pilot.

Sir Woolf Fisher established a trust in 1960 to recognise and reward excellence in education.