The Russell McVeagh Auckland Secondary Schools Debating Championships were held on 12 and 13 May at Baradene College. Teams from 24 schools made their way through the first 3 rounds, debating topics such as ‘This house would return the drinking age to 20’ and ‘This house believes the use of torture on suspected terrorists is justified’. From there, 8 teams progressed through to the quarters and subsequently the semi finals where they examined the issues surrounding a ban on international adoptions and the merits of boycotting the Beijing Olympics 2008. Auckland Grammar and St Kentigern College emerged as the two finalists, going on to debate the bioethical issue ‘This house would stop government subsidy of IVF treatment’. In a close and highly entertaining debate the panel of adjudicators awarded the debate to the negative team, St Kentigern, who received the Claire Ryan Cup for Auckland Debating.
Adjudicators commented on the high standard of the competition this year and there were a number of prizes awarded to individual speakers. Jeremy Minton (Rangitoto College) was awarded the prize for the Most Promising Speaker. Prizes for highly commended speakers went to Miriam Jobson (Westlake Girls High School), Chen Liu (Rutherford College) and James Ruddell (St Kentigern). The two reserves named for the Auckland representative squad were Samuel Horner (Wentworth College) and Capucine Hague (Diocesan School). Lastly, a representative Auckland squad was selected comprising Sam Bookman (St Kentigern), Edward Brownlee (Rosmini College), William Cheyne (Westlake Boys’ High School), Sam George (Auckland Grammar), Ben Kornfeld (King’s College) and Stephanie Thompson (Diocesan School). Sam Bookman was named speaker of the tournament.
A big thank you must go to Ann Thorn and her girls from Baradene who graciously hosted the tournament and acted as guides for teams over the course of the weekend. Similarly, the Auckland tournament was well supported by a host of experienced adjudicators so a special thank you must go to all those who gave up their time: Claire Ryan, Nick Flanagan, Jesse Wilson, Tim Fitzgerald, Anna-Marie Wallis, James Little, Charlotte Saunders, Glenn Riddell, Ben Milsom, Brad Ward, Glen Holm-Hansen, Amy Vinkenvleugel and Jeremy Johnson.