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University Challenge was a long-running New Zealandmarker television quiz show. The format was based on the British show of the same name, which was itself based on the American College Bowl. It was produced by Television New Zealand.

At its inception in 1976 it was hosted by University of Otagomarker lecturer Richard Higham, but after the first series it gained Peter Sinclair as regular host; he continued in this capacity until the show's demise in 1989.


As with the British show, "starter" questions were answered individually "on the buzzer", and are worth 10 points. The team answering a starter correctly got a set of "bonus" questions worth a potential fifteen points, over which they can confer. In the last few series, a "jackpot bonus" was also available once per game, signalled by a bell. In that, each part of the bonus was worth five points, but getting all three parts right doubled the value of the question to 30 points.

An incorrect interruption of a starter resulted in a five point penalty. The pace of questioning gradually increased through the show, becoming almost frantic in the last minute or so before the "gong" which signalled the end of the game. In the event of a tied score at the sound of the gong, a "sudden death" question was to be asked (although in practice this never occurred during the 14 years that the series was run). In this circumstance the first team to answer correctly would have been deemed the winner, with the process repeated until one or other of the teams answered correctly.

Teams consisted of four members, each representing a single New Zealand university. All six of the universities in New Zealand at the time competed (Aucklandmarker, Canterburymarker, Masseymarker, Otagomarker, Victoriamarker and Waikatomarker), along with a seventh team, representing Lincoln College (now Lincoln Universitymarker).

The format of the series was seven first round matches, with each of the teams competing twice (having been randomly drawn against their opponents). Two semi-finals between the highest points-scorers followed, after which there was a final.


Year University/College Members of champion team
1976 University of Otagomarker Grant Liddell, Mark Allen, Dennis King, Bruce MacKay
1977 University of Otagomarker Graham Pendreigh, Nicholas Dodd, Stephen Kennedy, Wayne McLachlan
1978 University of Otagomarker Graeme Smaill, Robin St. Clair, Paul Corwin, Michael Jackson
1979 University of Canterburymarker Richard Surridge, Graham Buckley, Brian Wilson, Martin Browne
1980 University of Otagomarker Jocelyn Brown (first woman contestant, now Jaquiery), James McPetrie, Bruce Russell, Grant Holloway
1981 University of Canterburymarker Vicki Spong , Jill Scott, Alistair Fletcher, Peter ?
1982 Massey Universitymarker Bryan Kirk, Judith Bowen, Richard Major, Richard Rumball
1983 Victoria University of Wellingtonmarker Daniel Morgan, Stewart Bartlett, Dean Sole, Jeremy Millar
1984 University of Otagomarker James Dignan, Geoff Boon, Richard Soper, Nick Thompson
1985 University of Aucklandmarker Adam Lowe, Lindsay Diggelmann, Scott Mataga, Grant Shirreffs
1986 University of Otagomarker Prudence Scott, Richard Nyhof, Camilla Owen, Clive Copeman
1987 University of Aucklandmarker Graham Coop, Sue Jensen, Charles Chauvel, Bruce Williams
1988 University of Canterburymarker Mark Wilson, Alex Lojkine, Jolisa Wood (now Gracewood), Tony Smith
1989 University of Waikatomarker Keith Sircombe, Wendy Moffitt, Duncan Stewart, Stephen Brown

International shows

Two international series were held in 1986 and 1987 between the British and New Zealand champions of the previous year. The first of these was held in Dunedinmarker, New Zealandmarker (the venue for the filming of the New Zealand domestic series); the second was held in Manchestermarker, Englandmarker. Each of these was a best of three series. Both series resulted in a win to the British team.There was also a one-off match between the Australian and New Zealand champions in 1989 filmed immediately after the completion of the Australian filming in Hobart, Tasmania, resulting in an Australian win.


Year British/Australian Team New Zealand Team Result
1986 Jesus College, Oxfordmarker University of Aucklandmarker 2-1 to Great Britain
1987 Keble College, Oxfordmarker University of Otagomarker 3-0 to Great Britain
1989 University of Tasmania University of Waikatomarker Win to Australia

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