Selling New Zealand's state assets is not a perfect solution but is the most suitable way of reducing our Government's debt in the short-term, says a trio of future economists.

Secondary school students had their chance to speak up on the asset sales programme on Friday at Massey University's annual Economics Challenge.

Officials from some key government departments heard teams of three students present of 'New Zealand's mounting debt: Are asset sales the answer?'

Winner at the Albany campus was Macleans College, which tackled precisely the type of tricky questions economists had to deal with, said judge Philip Stevens, head of economic research at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

"In economics we ask questions like why is Africa poor? Why is water, the most important thing we've got, worth less than diamonds? What services should be provided by the state?


"The questions are complicated, and the winning team used the economic tools at their disposal to weigh up the pros and cons, and then systematically arrive at their solution."

Another trio from Westlake Boys High School recommended selling minority stakes in state-owned power companies and using the funds generated to purchase majority stakes in key privately-owned power companies.

The trio were commended for developing a "counter-intuitive solution".

The Manawatu campus competition was won by a team from Wanganui High School.

Students in each winning team received a Massey scholarship of $2000 towards full-time study in the College of Business, and runner-up teams received a $1000 scholarship.