Two wins in inaugural Canterbury Economic Development Challenge

St Margaret’s College (SMC) has scooped two of the top three prizes in the inaugural Canterbury Economic Development Challenge.

It was the only school to field two of the six teams in the national final after two earlier rounds of competition.

Run by the University of Canterbury (UC) in conjunction with Christchurch NZ, the fledgling competition marked 100 years of teaching for UC’s Business School. It was originally slated for 2020 but delayed until this year because of Covid-19.

The challenge was to present an idea, in video format, for an economic development project for ChristchurchNZ that could enhance the economy of Waitaha Canterbury and improve its living standards. It was open to all secondary school students in Aotearoa and to UC students.

SMC Year 12 students Jessie Peng and Jessica Geng won first prize for their proposal of a Public Private Partnership between Environment Canterbury (ECAN) and Canterbury farmers to use drones for water quality sampling and application of fertilisers. They believed the partnership would provide significant cost saving for farmers and would be a revenue stream for ECAN. The accurate water quality data would help to improve water quality in the province.

The two students are part of SMC’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, an internationally recognised two-year qualification that encourages students to direct their own learning pathway and develop skills and confidence to make a lasting difference.

Year 13’s Chloe Taylor and Jordan Silcock, studying NCEA, were placed third, as well as winning best video pitch.

Chloe and Jordan proposed the ‘Te Ōtautahi Wira’, the Christchurch wheel, a Canterbury version of the London Eye. They said it would be a major tourist attraction, drawing domestic and international tourists to the CBD, providing valuable revenue for local businesses and ‘Te Otautahi Wira’ shareholders.

Andrea Drayton, SMC’s Curriculum Leader of Business Studies, says the girls’ economic studies have helped them develop critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems.

“They had creative ideas and each team worked collaboratively playing to their strengths – both teams continuously improved and refined their challenge concepts following feedback from their teachers and UC mentors.”

Andrea Drayton, SMC’s Curriculum Leader of Business Studies

Mrs Drayton says economics is a popular choice at SMC for both IB and NCEA students because of its real-world applications and range of tertiary study options including a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Arts and/or a Bachelor of Science.

“We are delighted to have been a part of this inaugural national competition, which challenged our students to realise solutions to obstacles through collaboration, curiosity and flexible thinking, and further prepares them to contribute to the exciting innovations underway in Canterbury and nationwide.”

Diana Patchett, Executive Principal

For further information, please contact:

Jane Lougher, Director of Community Relations, 03 379 2000,