Summer development culminates in victory at Western WSDC

This year the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council ran a summer development programme consisting of sixteen year 11/12 students who attended the 2023 National Finals.

The sixteen students were split into 3 teams:

  • Northern (coached by Harper Smith and Sharuka Wikramanayake);
  • Central (coached by Ailidh Leslie);
  • Southern (coached by Tony Huang and Yeonwoo Sim).

Council is very grateful for the coaches' commitment over their summer breaks.

The teams participated in regular training and practice debates throughout the summer, and the programme culminated in two teams attending the prestigious online Western World Schools Debating Championships (Western WSDC) on 4 and 5 February 2024. The teams consisted of:

  • Katie Li (St Peters Cambridge); Clara Ballantyne (Columba College); and Stella Bloomfield (Nayland College).
  • Riley Nicholls (Waimea College); Finn Kerby-Pinguet (Nayland College); and Jamie Pett (Avondale College).

After 6 preliminary rounds, both New Zealand teams advanced to the Novice Grand-Final. Riley, Finn and Jamie ultimately won the Novice division, with Katie, Clara, and Stella placing as runners-up. New Zealand was highly successful in speaker awards, with Clara being named 9th= best novice speaker, Katie being named 7th best ESL speaker, and Finn being named best speaker of the Novice Finals. This was an incredible result, especially given that round 1 of the tournament began at 3am New Zealand time.


Western WSDC is hosted by the University of Western Ontario, and is the first major international schools tournament of the WSDC calendar, and consisted of over 80 teams representing 17 countries. In attendance were the national and development teams of Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Scotland, and Singapore.

Thank you to the University of Western Ontario for allowing us to participate in what was a fantastically run tournament, as well as Alexander Sun, Jordan Hannon, and Julia Randerson for volunteering to assist New Zealand at Western WSDC.

1 thought on “Summer development culminates in victory at Western WSDC”

  1. what a great commitment and effort everyone has put in well done to everyone thanks to the coaches as well

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