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Waikato wins New Zealand Schools Debating Champs

Waikato wins New Zealand Schools Debating Champs

Waikato has defeated Wellington to win the Russell McVeagh New Zealand Schools' Debating Champs in the Grand Final held at Parliament this afternoon.

It is the second year in a row that Waikato has won the competition.

The Waikato team (Christopher Jury, Thomas Simpson and Kayla Grant) argued against the proposition that people should have to pass a political literacy test before being allowed to vote.

Christopher Bishop, the President of the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, said that the Grand Final was a great debate in a highly appropriate setting.

"Waikato argued with passion that voting was an important human right, and that making people pass a test would be unfair and elitist. These arguments defeated the claims by Wellington that imposing a test would improve political literacy and decrease voter apathy about democracy."

The final was the culmination of a weekend of debating between thirty six of New Zealand’s top secondary school students at Victoria University of Wellington.

Teams from Wellington, Auckland, Canterbury, Otago-Southland, Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Central North Island, Waikato and Kahurangi-Marlborough took part in seven preliminary rounds of debates, confronting such issues as whether te reo Maori should be compulsory in schools, if Barack Obama should be re-elected, and if state-owned enterprises should be sold.

Students found out the topics and what side they were to argue only one hour before the debate. The defeated semi-finalists were Auckland and the Central North Island.

Thomas Simpson from Hamilton Boys' High School was named as the tournament's best speaker for the second year in a row.

The best five speakers at the tournament were named as members of the Russell McVeagh New Zealand Schools’ Debating Team, which will represent New Zealand at the World Schools’ Debating Champs in Turkey in February. The team consist of Thomas Simpson, James Penn (Captain, Wanganui High School), Edward Foley (Wellington College), Ashley Varney (Kings College) and Jemima Lomax-Saywers (St Mary's College, Wellington).

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