In Nathan Hawkins' lifetime, he has created a card game, started a church and is now the recipient of a prestigious scholarship to continue postgraduate philosophy studies at Cambridge University.

The former Whangarei man decided to study because his wife was studying nursing in Whangarei. He took up a bachelor of arts in mathematics and philosophy extramurally through Massey University. Now he is the recipient of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship worth about 45,000 ($95,000).

Mr Hawkins said he wanted to study philosophy to gain a better understanding of his religious beliefs.

"I'm a religious person in that I believe in God. But I can have trouble understanding exactly what I mean by that since he does not exist in the same way that more familiar things exist."


He admits his field of study is complex, but he has an interest in different ways of thinking.

Mr Hawkins, 35, started studying when he was 31 and said he had a few things to keep him busy after he had turned 18. He created a card game called The Mission and sold the product in the US where it eventually sold out. He has also been involved with media companies and owned his own company called InSite Media.

Mr Hawkins grew up in Denton, Kent in the UK but moved to Whangarei about 13 years ago to visit his father. He remained in the city until last year when he moved back to England to study at Cambridge.

During his time in Whangarei he met his wife, started a church and filmed a documentary about the construction Te Matau a Pohe.

Mr Hawkins said because he had been out of the UK for so long, he was considered an international student so would have had to pay fees of about 20,000 a year.