Talented teenage economists top New Zealand in prestigious competition

28 October 2010

Two talented young students from Tauranga and Hamilton have topped a field of more than 3600 secondary pupils to clinch national honours in the 2010 New Zealand Economics Competition administered by the Department of Economics at The University of Auckland Business School.

Thomas Simpson, a Year 11 student from Hamilton Boys' High School and Dirk Driessen, a Year 13 student from Tauranga Boys' College, took out top honours in the two categories ahead of budding economists from 138 schools in the prestigious competition. Each national divisional winner receives a $350 prize and a trophy.

The Department of Economics has run the 13-year-old competition, which is open to all students from around the country, since 2008. The competition consists of a 55-minute exam containing 40 multiple-choice questions that test both classroom theory and general knowledge of current economic issues. The two categories are Year 12 and under, and Year 13.

Department of Economics head Professor Basil Sharp says this year's competition has outstripped previous years in numbers of schools and students taking part, and the overall standard of competitors.

"This event is now the largest and most prestigious competition of its kind for secondary students in New Zealand, and showcases the exceptional upcoming talent we have in economics," Professor Sharp says.

"Knowledge of economics is a valuable complement to studies in business, law and the arts, including subjects such as philosophy, sociology, political studies, history, geography, employment relations and organisation studies, so it's a very worthwhile path to take."

Sponsored by the Kelliher Economics Foundation and the Business School, the competition's top 5% of students receive High Distinction awards, which will be presented at an Awards Ceremony in the Owen G Glenn Building tonight.

Guest speakers at this year's Ceremony include former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr Michael Cullen, and Roseanne Meo from the Kelliher Economics Foundation.

Also in attendance will be members of MADE (Making a Difference with Economics), a new initiative by Associate Professor Rhema Vaithianathan that consists of current economics students wanting to supplement their academic studies with real world engagement, and to understand how economics can empower communities and influence policy.

MADE students will be on hand at the Awards Ceremony to inspire a new generation of economic leaders.