Helping community —  one quiz at a time

Always on the hunt for new quiz questions is Wānaka quiz master George Smyth. PHOTO: REGAN HARRIS
Always on the hunt for new quiz questions is Wānaka quiz master George Smyth. PHOTO: REGAN HARRIS
You might think you know Wānaka, but do you know the name of the small reserve* located next to Lake Bar and Patagonia Chocolates?

Quiz master George Smyth does, and he is not afraid to use such knowledge to generate a bit of healthy competition at one of his seasonal fundraiser quiz nights.

For almost two decades, Mr Smyth has patiently honed his skills as an announcer and trivia expert in Wānaka, hosting hundreds of quiz nights in bars and clubrooms throughout the town and in Lake Hāwea.

Originally from Belfast, the former airline cabin crew member and current Edgewater employee said his career as a quiz master began with an informal request to help boost winter patronage from the owners of Slainte, an old Irish pub that occupied the space at 21 Helwick St in the mid-2000s.

“First of all they said to me, what do you reckon we do? I said, ‘well in the UK, there’s quizzes and there’s bingo. And I’m not doing bingo’.”

While Mr Smyth originally made use of a mail-order DVD quiz service, he has spent the years honing his craft and now makes all of his quizzes from scratch.

His time as quiz master has taught him many lessons, including the fact that teams of 10 people were far too large and often led to excessive bickering between team-mates.

“I make it eight now, because it’s enough to discuss the answer.”

He no longer hosts weekly quizzes, opting instead to organise four fundraising quiz nights each year on behalf of the Wānaka Lions Club and alongside Jill Checketts, his official quiz scorer.

Next up is a quiz night on June 9 which aims to raise funds for the Wānaka Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Mr Smyth said he expected to see many familiar faces and teams at the event, but encouraged any aspiring trivia experts to sign up for what promised to be a “good fun night”.

“Obviously there’s competition between families and husbands and wives and all that, but it’s all light-hearted.

“They’ve still got to go home with each other.”

*The reserve is called Bridgeman Green