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Media statement

University Challenge winner looks at freshwater allocation

Issue date: 
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
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Karla Smith is the winner of the Treasury’s University Challenge for 2016, with her essay looking at the issues around freshwater allocation. Karla is from Christchurch where she is studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics, Accounting and Taxation at the University of Canterbury.

Students from a wide range of New Zealand universities and disciplines submitted essays for the competition, with the four finalists visiting the Treasury in Wellington to share their winning ideas with staff and receive their awards. Smith will receive a $2,500 grant towards her university fees.

“This competition is not only a great way for students to understand the kind of issues that Treasury analysts are working on every day, but it’s another way for us to gauge the views of New Zealanders to inform our thinking on the big issues facing the country,” said Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf at today’s prize-giving ceremony.

Entrants were asked to write a 2000-word essay on one of four key policy topics: Government debt objectives; freshwater ownership, allocation and pricing; the Crown-Maori relationship in an increasingly multicultural society; and changes in the labour market and the implications for the New Zealand economy.

“Karla’s essay made excellent use of economic frameworks to help inform the balancing of the competing needs of different users of water” said Treasury Principal Advisor, and one of eight judges on the University Challenge judging panel, Steve Cantwell.

The three other finalists all hail from Auckland University, and the judging panel noted the high standard across the entries.

“Overall, we were impressed by the entrants’ willingness to tackle the more challenging questions, and were pleased with the quality and breadth of subject matter that came through in all four finalists’ essays.”

The top four essays are available on the Treasury website at



Bryan McDaniel | Principal Communications Advisor
Tel: +64 4 917 6268 or 021 817 207
Email: [email protected]
Last updated: 
Tuesday, 13 September 2016