Demonstrating their big brains and wealth of knowledge, the University of Waikato team has made it through to one of the 2016 semi-finals of University Challenge. The team takes on Auckland University in a programme due to air on Prime TV on 21 January. AUT and Canterbury University are the other semi-finalists.
University Challenge is a television quiz show that ran from 1976-1989 and was revived in 2014. The format was based on the British show of the same name. All eight New Zealand universities took part in the 2016 challenge, and director of Invercargill-based television production company Cue Productions (which brought back University Challenge in 2014) Tom Conroy is the quizmaster.
Questions are aimed to test contestants’ knowledge, mental agility and recall, and range in subject matter from the intellectual to the quirky, covering literature, history, geography, politics sports and science.
Waikato team captain Brendan Madley says the Waikato teams have been getting progressively better over the years, and making it to the semi-finals is a reflection of the hard work and training that’s been put in by everyone.
“It’s great to see Waikato and AUT making it into the semis this year coming up against the established dominance of the older universities,” says Brendan. “We’re a team of fighters and we’ll give reigning champions Auckland a run for their money.”
Brendan is just finishing a Master of Social Sciences (Public Policy), and was in the 2014 Waikato University Challenge team.
With Brendan on the team are former 2015 Waikato competitors Steffan van Lieshout, studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Te Reo) and Rose Swears, Bachelor of Science (Chemistry). Competing for the first time are Avish Ram, Bachelor of Management Studies, and Anthony Crooymans, Bachelor of Tourism (Tourism Development). The team is coached by Donald and Anita Neal who competed in the Waikato University Challenge team in the 1980s.
Waikato made it into the semi-finals for four consecutive years from 1986 to 1989, winning the competition in 1989 against Auckland.
The team is planning to have a stall at Clubs Day during Orientation Week so students can drop in, do a quiz and submit their details if they’d like to trial for the 2017 Waikato team.
UPDATE: The Waikato team beat Auckland in the semi-final, but were beaten by Canterbury University in the final.