Nayland debaters take the argument online


Due to the lockdown, students have had to find new ways to engage in their favourite activities. Senior debater Sophie Hampson, explains how she has managed to keep competing in one of her favoured activities by taking part in online debating.

Debating. A great activity, one that engages all parts of the mind while also being a fantastic way to meet like-minded students. With the Nelson regional competition already behind us, students around Nelson had been looking forward to friendly regional meetups over the rest of the year. Sadly, in our current situation, the last arranged meet had to be cancelled. 

You would think that not being able to see your teammates, let alone go to school with them would put a damper on debating this year. However, New Zealand School’s Debating has pulled through for students across the country and has started Aotearoa Online School’s Debating.

This competition is being run by regional school debating organisations across the country, with an aim to connect students across NZ during the lockdown. Will Irvine, Lara Edmonds, Alice Simpson (Nelson College) and myself are a mixed school’s senior team competing in the online debates. The debates occur over Zoom, an online video conferencing app, allowing us to debate from the comfort of our own bedrooms. The format is certainly disorientating at first, but you soon get used to seeing everyone talk from your screen.

Our team is entered in the premier grade, the highly competitive grade for senior students who are experienced in debating. There are 3 other grades varying from competitive to social. We’ve had 2 debates so far, a win and a loss, and the experience has definitely been entertaining.

My teammate Will Irvine has also been loving the debates. “We have met some really amazing people and have had the privilege of speaking opposite some of New Zealand’s most intelligent youth,” he said.

The highlight for me is definitely having the opportunity to debate against people we may have never gotten a chance to meet otherwise. We even had an adjudicator calling in from Australia!

This competition has been a great way to keep busy during the past couple of weeks, and as Will said, “It’s been a really rewarding mental challenge.”

I’d encourage anyone who is looking for something to do at this time to hop on Google and see if there’s an online alternative of an activity they love! 

By Student journalist Sophie Hampson