Every year since 1969 ‘The Press’ Canterbury Secondary Schools’ Debating Championships have been held, and since 1988 they have been held under the auspices of the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council. This year 18 teams, from Timaru, Ashburton, the West Coast and Christchurch, competed in the tournament.
The prepared topic, sponsored by the Bioethics Council, was ‘This House would ban the genetic screening of human embryos for disabilities’, followed by three limited preparation rounds on boycotting Beijing 2008, whether criminal trials should be televised and ‘This House believes that those who use more should be taxed more’. A quarter-final was held for the first time in a number of years, with St Bede’s College and Ashburton College debating ‘This House would withdraw from Iraq immediately’. In the semi-finals St Bede’s College defeated Villa Maria College and St Margaret’s College beat Papanui High School on the topic ‘This House would make religious studies compulsory in New Zealand schools’.
The final was held in the Grand Hall of the Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers, with awards presented by former Canterbury debater and past President of the Canterbury Schools Debating Council Dr Megan Woods, the Christchurch 2021 candidate for Mayor of Christchurch (www.megan4mayor.com). After a high quality debate, and with a 2-1 decision, St Margaret’s College, (Claire Martin, Becky Ardagh and Becky Gates), defeated St Bede’s College, (Paul O’Connor, Simon Inder and Vincent Jagers), successfully negating ‘This House would make tertiary education free for graduates who stay in New Zealand’.
Ashburton College, (Stacey Lavender, Sarah Clement, Scott Summerfield), were awarded the cup for the Most Promising Team, and Tom Wilkinson from Papanui High School was the Most Promising Speaker. Highly Commended speakers were Sarah McRae (Villa Maria College) and Paul O’Connor (St Bede’s College). Reserves for the Canterbury team were Jeremy Bell-Connell (Christchurch Boys’ High School) Jenna Donaldson (Villa Maria College) and Justyna Giejsztowt (Papanui High School). The teams selected to represent Canterbury at the National Championships were Becky Ardagh (St Margaret’s College) Simon Inder (St Bede’s College) Vincent Jagers (St Bede’s College) Ben Land Maycock (Christ’s College) Claire Martin (St Margaret’s College) and Anton Smith (Christ’s College). The winner of the CSU Trophy for Best Speaker of the Tournament was Becky Ardagh (St Margaret’s College).
Thanks to St Margaret’s College who hosted the tournament, and to the convenor and Canterbury Schools Debating Council President Jenna Rennie. Thanks also to those who adjudicated over the weekend, in particular Rose Austen, Jason Cooper, Dave Dewar, Richard Flanagan, John Foulkes, Jeremy Johnson, Sarah Keast, Ben Lawless, Amy Shakespeare, Monica Silverwood, Hamish Silverwood and Dave Turner.
Finally thanks to ‘The Press’, the New Zealand newspaper of the year, who are the longest running sponsors of secondary schools debating in New Zealand.