The winner of the Treasury's University Challenge is Lauren Tyler-Harwood, a BA/BCom student majoring in economics, politics, international relations and international trade at University of Auckland. Lauren is originally from Christchurch where she attended St Margaret's College.
A panel of Treasury staff judged her essay on wealth and income inequality best among entries submitted from all of New Zealand's universities and from a range of disciplines.
Lauren will receive $2,500 towards her university fees for 2016.
"We enjoy giving university students a feel for the range of work the Treasury does and asking them to test their skills on real life policy issues," said Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf during a ceremony to present the finalists with their awards.
"University Challenge is also a great opportunity for the Treasury to look at a range of ideas from different people. My hope is for the initiative to be expanded to include students from all over the world to invite an even wider range of fresh perspectives in the future."
Entrants were asked to write a 2000-word essay on one of three topics: wealth and income inequality; problems associated with binge drinking culture and rising house prices.
"Lauren's essay showed an excellent appreciation of the potential negative effects of inequality on economic and social outcomes," said Treasury Analyst Anton Samoilenko. "Lauren effectively explored a wide range of policy options and her discussion of options to improve market-relevance of post-school education really stood out."
The five other finalists (Jacob Peyton, Aric Shakur and Ameera Clayton from Victoria University and Zbigniew Dumienski and Andrew Hallot from the University of Auckland) provided what the judges called 'a real contest'.
"Overall, the finalists' essays showed remarkable depth," said Samoilenko. "They each contained useful new ideas and some interesting perspectives on old ideas."
He singled out Zbigniew Dumienski's impassioned argument for reintroducing a land value tax. "This was a great attempt at invigorating an old idea and showed the ability to balance innovative thinking with historical perspective."