Debaters succeed at regional tournament


It was a case of history repeating itself for the Nayland debating team as they took out the senior section of the Kahurangi Regional Student Debating competition for the second year in a row. The tournament, held at Nayland College, featured debaters from Nayland, Waimea, Garin, Nelson Girls, and Nelson Boys colleges.

The teams squared off in four different debates during the day, arguing a range of topics that varied from economic equality, politics, the entertainment industry and ethics in sport.

The Nayland Senior team of Will Irvine, Sophie Hampson and Lily Wiegand won three of their four debates during the day. They then went on to face Nelson College in the final, who they beat in a close debate that centred around whether environmentalism should be an issue just dealt with by left leaning parties.

Will Irvine also won a Most Promising Speaker award and Lily Wiegand won a Highly Commended Speaker award.

The junior team made up of Year 9 students Annabel Batt, Stella Bloomfield and Rhiannon Sinclair also had a successful day. Despite going up against predominantly senior teams, they too made into the final, facing off against a composite team made up of a brother and sister duo from Nelson Boys and Nelson Girls college respectively, and Pippa Sussex from Nayland College. The composite team eventually won that debate, meaning the junior trophy is now shared between the three schools.

Topping off a successful tournament for Nayland, Stella Bloomfield also won the trophy for Most Promising Junior Speaker.

Sophie Hampson, who was part of the senior winning team, found the day to be a great experience both from a competitive and a social point of view.

“I thought it was a really cool experience, especially meeting all the other people from all the other schools. It was quite fun. There’s the actual competitive aspect of debating, but then afterwards everyone is still friends, everyone is still happy to talk and chat,” Sophie said.

Stella Bloomfield said that despite going up against mostly senior teams, she really enjoyed the experience.

“We bet some of them (the senior teams,)” Stella said. “But some of them beat us probably just through their experience. I thought it was really good though because we learnt quite a bit. We did pretty well. We got second place which I was really pleased with since it was our first actual competition, and some of our team actually hadn’t even done it before.”

Nayland debating coach, Gaye Bloomfield, felt Nayland’s success stemmed from the students’ ability to approach issues from different angles.

“Nayland’s coaching philosophy centres on encouraging students to question the stories they hear in the media, to seek out information from both sides of any argument and to be able to see both sides of the issue,” Ms Bloomfield said.

Sophie stated that debating had been a great way to practise a variety of skills.

“It definitely helps a lot of skills: thinking on your feet, thinking outside of the box, trying to find arguments that the other team won’t have thought up, confidence, just being able to stand up there and be confident in your point, enough that you are able to argue it solidly and not be swayed by the other team’s thoughts and opinions,” Sophie said.

Ms Bloomfield agrees. “(Debating) helps them to think on their feet – literally. It is a great way to develop logical progression of your ideas and then communicate them face to face,” she said. 

By Duncan McKinlay