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Debaters vie for Plunket Medal

26 September 2006

Debaters vie for Plunket Medal

The Plunket Medal for Oratory—one of the oldest and most prestigious public speaking competitions in New Zealand—celebrates its 101st birthday tomorrow (Wednesday 27 September) when four Victoria University students vie for the coveted award.

The competition will be held in the Hunter Council Chamber at Victoria University’s Kelburn Campus at 6.30pm on Wednesday 27 September.

Governor-General, Sir William Plunket, established the competition in 1905 to encourage the art of oratory in New Zealand. Past winners have included MPs, writers, academics, successful business people and a chief justice.

The competition is organised by the Victoria University Debating Society (DebSoc), with support from the University. The winner receives the silver plated medal and has their named added to the list of winners in the foyer of the Hunter Building.

Both Victoria and DebSoc have a strong reputation and tradition in debating and oratory. In the last year, Victoria teams took first, second and third place in the New Zealand University Games in Wellington and won the 104-year-old Joynt Scroll at the New Zealand Universities Prepared Debating Championships in Auckland. A Victoria team also made it into the semi-finals of the 2006 Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships or Australs, which were also held in Wellington this year and were organised by the Society. Both the UniGames and Australs were sponsored by Victoria University.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, said debating and oratory provided students with valuable skills the University was keen to promote.

“To be a good debater you’ve got to be a good communicator, you’ve got to be a leader and you’ve got to be able to think critically and creatively. Those are attributes which the University wants to be the mark of all Victoria graduates and so we’re pleased to support the Society in hosting this keenly contested competition.”

Debating Society President, James Clark, said the prestigious competition was a real test for student debaters.

“While the speeches are prepared and can be on anything they want to speak about, they’re not allowed to use cue cards or prompts and they must be at least 10 minutes long or they’re disqualified. But most importantly, they have to able to speak passionately about their subject.”

The competition will be judged by Wellington’s John Bishop, who won the Medal in 1976.


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