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From left; Ben, Samuel and Aaron
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Dunedin Schools Debating Success

Samuel Blackwood —

With the 2020 Dunedin Schools Debating Competition now concluded, the King’s 1st Debating Team has finished as runners-up in the Senior Division and a King’s student has been named 2020 best speaker.

On Wednesday night, following seven preliminary rounds held periodically throughout the year, the top four teams in the Dunedin Schools Debating (DSD) Senior Competition gathered in the King’s PAC for a night of semifinals and finals.The King’s 1st Team (Ben Hawke, Samuel Blackwood and Aaron Hewson), having finished the preliminary rounds on six wins, progressed to the semifinals seeded second and were consequently matched against John McGlashan 1. 

After a coin toss and topic announcement, the debate was set: King’s would be arguing the affirmative of “That we should temporarily and significantly relax minimum labour standards in times of unusually high unemployment, including workplace health and safety standards, minimum wage, working hour restrictions etc.”.

Following an intense thirty minute preparation period and an even more intense debate, the judges left to deliberate. Upon their return, it was announced that King’s had won their debate and would be facing top seeded Columba 1 in the competition’s grand final.

After a short pizza break, the topic and sides for the grand final were announced. With King’s again arguing the affirmative, the topic for the debate in the grand final was to be “That humanitarian organisations should give funding, resources or services to illegal armed groups when this is made a condition of access to vulnerable civilians.”.

A closely fought and high quality debate ensued. Throughout six 7 minute substantive speeches and two 4 minute right of reply speeches, speakers analysed the nature of deprivation, suffering, armed groups and humanitarian organisations in conflict-torn parts of the world. After deliberating, the judges again returned with their verdict. Unfortunately, in a 4-1 split decision, the grand final was awarded to Columba 1, leaving King’s as still-admirable runners-up.

In addition to having had the privilege of leading the team, I was also honoured to be named best speaker of the Senior Competition for 2020.

On behalf of the team, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to make our success possible. Particular thanks goes to Dr Gibson for his guidance, support and encouragement as the teacher in charge of debating.

Samuel Blackwood