History of University & Tertiary Sport NZ

A Brief History of UTSNZ

University sport has held a significant place in New Zealand's heritage of sporting success. 

  • Competitive inter-university sport first took place in New Zealand in 1902
  • Unveiled in 1923, the Shield has existed for 95 years
  • The New Zealand University Sports’ Union was created in 1957. 

For over 50 years the NZ Universities Sports Union provided significant opportunities for inter-university competition and a platform for progression to international level events. In 2012 changes were made to the legislation making by Student Union membership voluntary. This decision had a significant impact on available funds and was a contributing factor in the decline of the University Games and associated events in the subsequent years.

In 2014 and 2015 reports were commissioned with a view towards re-thinking the structure of inter-university competition and international team selection, in order to lift the level of competition and enhance the sustainability of the events offered. 

In late 2015 a brand new collectively funded organisation was established as "University and Tertiary Sport New Zealand" (UTSNZ). Its first executive director was appointed in 2016. 

UTSNZ has several important goals. The initial core objectives are focused around reviving competitive inter tertiary sporting competitions, lifting the standard of these competitions and developing pathways to international opportunities. In time the organisation will hold a wider strategic focus, including establishing national sports strategies and co-coordinating targeted research activities to increase student sport participation and wellness. Go to UTSNZ Strategies.