Dunedin secondary school pupils will be able to debate until
they are blue in the face with the establishment of a new
debating organisation in the city.
Dunedin Schools' Debating (DSD) co-founder and chairwoman
Suzanne Robins said DSD arose from the ''long-term
frustration'' of pupils and coaches, and focused on providing
an ongoing schedule of debates for secondary pupils in
Dunedin and Mosgiel.
Ms Robins said the committee formed to organise events was
based on co-operation between local secondary debating
coaches and representatives of the Otago University Debating
The initiative aimed to challenge and extend teenagers who
were keen to stretch their thinking and build their
analytical thinking and persuasive speaking skills, she said.
''We can be proud that our Otago University debating team
recently reached the finals in the world debating
''I can tell you, as the former coach of Keiran Bunn and Alex
Dawson - the highest placed pair - and the other two ex-Logan
Park High School debaters who helped form the six-person
squad, that when they were at school, they were frustrated by
the lack of opportunities for challenging, competitive
Inter-school debates were organised in the past and there
were some debating opportunities within the school, Ms Robins
However, the only ''recognised, high-stakes debating event''
was the Russell McVeagh debating competition, which was
focused on selecting a regional team to represent Otago in a
''While this is a fine event, it was over in one weekend for
everyone, except those chosen for the regional team.
''Most Dunedin schools have been in the same position and, in
some, the culture of debating has died away almost
''This is a great pity, as students have been denied the
stimulation, fun and thinking opportunities that are central
''We are keen to revive a culture of debating in Dunedin, and
hope this is the first step.''
Ms Robins said the ongoing schedule of competition would
involve three styles of debate - prepared, advised topic and
All debates would be adjudicated by members of the Otago
University Debating Society, and the ongoing programme of
debates would be hosted by Columba College (seniors) and
Logan Park High School (juniors) on Wednesdays, she said.
An open day will be held this Saturday at Columba College for
juniors (8.30am-12.30pm) and seniors (1.30pm-5.30pm).