Debater hopes world champs will be fruitful

Columba College pupil Clara Ballantyne is heading to Serbia to captain the New Zealand schools...
Columba College pupil Clara Ballantyne is heading to Serbia to captain the New Zealand schools debating team at the world championships in July. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The No 1 pressing issue for the New Zealand schools’ debating team captain from Dunedin is whether there will be mandarins in Serbia when she goes there to compete in the world championships.

Columba College year 13 pupil Clara Ballantyne, 18, was named the captain of the New Zealand team for secondary schools after Otago won the New Zealand Schools Debating Grand Final on Monday night at Parliament.

She will be leading the team at the world championships held in Serbia in July.

Clara’s top question when she found out was whether there would be mandarins in Serbia at that time of year.

Apart from drinking a lot of coffee, her nervous tic was peeling mandarins during the debates.

"The mandarins are the No1 pressing issue," she said.

Clara said she only started debating properly last year for the school team at Columba and was quickly recruited by the Otago team.

She relished robust conversations and was very sure of what she believed in.

"I wouldn’t describe myself as an argumentative person but I think that people in my life would have a different stance on that one."

When arguing for motions she did not agree with, she focused on displaying her skills.

"At the end of the day debating is more like a game and it has rules and you try to remove yourself from the debate and think about it from an analytical perspective."

She said she felt honoured to have won the national competition and to be leading the New Zealand team at the world championships.