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NZ student named the world's best debater

NZ student named the world's best debater

A New Zealand secondary school student has been named as the world's best student debater.

Jennifer Savage, 18, of Wanganui Collegiate School, has competed for the last ten days as a member of the Russell McVeagh New Zealand Schools' Debating Team, at the World Schools Debating Champs.

Jen had the highest average score from the eight preliminary debating rounds, beating out the other 116 competitors for the "Best Speaker in the World" title.

Christopher Bishop of the NZ Schools' Debating Council said that Jen had done amazingly well, and her prize reflected months of dedicated hard work. Mr Bishop said Jen was only the second New Zealander ever to win the best speaker prize, after Jonathan Walbridge in 1996.

Other members of the New Zealand team also did very well, with Ben Kornfeld of King's College named as the 2nd best speaker, and Holly Jenkins of Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt, the 4th best. The other two members of the team - Maria English (Captain, Samuel Marsden Collegiate) and Tom Chen (Hillcrest High School) - finished just outside the top ten.

Mr Bishop said the individual success of the team members proved just how much New Zealand had dominated the tournament. "Unfortunately we weren't able to take the ultimate prize this year, but the team will be back looking to go one step further at the next World Champs in Athens in February", he said.

The NZ Schools Debating Team, sponsored by Russell McVeagh, was selected after representing their various regions at the national finals of the New Zealand Schools' Debating Champs, held in May this year.

The team was coached by Julia Fetherston (an Australian law student and champion student debater) and Kevin Moar (a senior policy analyst at the Ministry of Health).

The World Schools' Debating Championships, a prestigious global competition for high school debaters, has been held each year since 1988. This year's tournament involves 39 teams, including England, Wales, Scotland, India, Pakistan, the USA, South Africa, South Korea, and Japan. New Zealand has won the tournament three times since 1988 (in 1991, 1992, and 1995) and hosted the competition in 1994.

The team arrives home on Wednesday 17 September.


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