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Going To Mars, Barbie, And Government Policy: The Moot Must Fall 2023

Almost one hundred Wellington students spent last weekend arguing at The Moot Must Fall. Students debated everything from using ChatGPT in schools to whether they should accept a one-way ticket to Mars.

The Moot Must Fall is a student-led debating competition now in its third year. Year 9 to 11 students come from across the Wellington region to take part – they were joined this year by three new schools, St Patrick’s College Kilbirnie, Scots College and Upper Hutt College. The event is hosted by Wellington College.

The Moot Must Fall was first held in 2021, when Year 11 students James Mason and Henry Isac were looking for a fun way to give local students more debating opportunities. They joined forces with Victoria University student debaters, and soon attracted support from FrankAdvice, a Wellington-based consultancy.

Emily Mason, Chief Executive of FrankAdvice, supports The Moot Must Fall every year, because she thinks it equips students with skills for life. Emily says, “By learning how to debate, students are better able to think about issues facing New Zealand, and how to weigh up evidence they’re faced with.”

Neil Tonpay, one of the year 11 organisers of the event, thinks it can be summed up in one word, “fun”. Neil says, “It’s a whole weekend of debating experience that would normally take a year to get! It’s about becoming more confident in your debating skills and just having a good time.”

Wellington College debating convenor, Cushla Thomson, has helped the students to organise The Moot Must Fall since 2021. She wants to thank adjudicators from the Wellington Speaking Union, Brooke Kinajil-Moran, Ri Comer, Liv Reese and Peter Lang. Cushla says of the adjudicators, “They gave up their weekend to provide a hundred 13 to 15 years old with invaluable feedback on their debating – in return for a few chocolate biscuits and a free t-shirt!”.

THE MOOT MUST FALL results for 2023:

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Best Speaker of the Moot Must Fall 2023 – Callum Lisner (Kāpiti College)

Winning team Year 10/11: Jessica Cheals (Samel Marsden Collegiate), Callum Lisner (Kāpiti College), Hope Glensor (St Mary’s)

Runner up team Year 10/11: Madison Homewood (Wellington Girls’ College), Eloise Judge (Kāpiti College), Theo Verkade (Onslow College)

Winning team - Year 9 final – Jedd Rix (Tawa College), Benedict McNaughton (St Patrick’s College Kilbirnie), Arlo Pryor (Wellington College), Thomas Dean (Wellington College)

Runner up in Year 9 final – Benji Mason (Wellington College), Octavius Horsfield (Wellington College), William Tuck (St Patrick’s College Kilbirnie)

Most Promising Speakers:

Ben Coull (Scots College) and Hope Glensor (St Mary’s College)

Highly commended speakers:

Ammar Bilal (Wellington College), Trudy Strumph (Wellington Girls’ College), Baxter Langford (Wellington College), James Blackmore (Scots College)

Best Style: Lydia Cammock (Scots College), Ruby Wilcox (Scots College)

(Year 9 students have their own division because they have usually done less interschool debating than the Year 10 and 11 students.)

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