Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society


Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society

The Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society (Inc.) or "Debsoc" as it is more commonly known, is a New Zealand University Debating Society. The society was formed in 1899, prior to the formation of Victoria University itself. VUW Debsoc is an Incorporated Society, run by a committee of eleven people who organise regular debating grades, tournaments, public debates and social events.

The Society meets each week during the university year on Wednesday nights in the University's Student Union Building, and attends tournaments during each of the mid-trimester and trimester breaks. The Society also organises the prestigious Plunket Medal Oratory Contest, the oldest prize for public speaking in New Zealand.

The 2008 Debating Society President is Christopher Bishop.

Debating Success

The VUW Debating Society is the most successful university debating society in New Zealand. It has won the Officers' Cup for impromptu debating at the New Zealand University Games sports tournament for the last ten years. It is the current holder of the prestigious Joynt Scroll for prepared debating, and it has won this trophy more than any other university. It has won the NZ British Parliamentary Debating Champs in three of the four years it has been held. It is also the current holder of the "McLeod Trophy" for university debating at a novice level in the North Island ("Thropy").

In July 2007, Victoria were runners-up at the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships, with four speakers ranking in the top twenty at the tournament. Sayeqa Islam won the best speaker prize. In July 2008 the Society followed up this success by having its top two teams finish 6th and 8th respectively and two speakers (Christopher Bishop and Stephen Whittington) rank in the top ten of the tournament. Victoria hosted Australs in 2006, 1999, 1980, and 1982, and is the only New Zealand Debating Society to have won Australs, which it has done three times, in 1980, 1982, and 1998.

In November 2007, a team from Victoria (Christopher Bishop & Sayeqa Islam) won the Cambridge Union Intervarsity tournament, the first ever team from the southern hemisphere to win the prestigious tournament. The same team also finished as runners-up at the Oxford Union Intervarsity tournament, and the University College Dublin Vice-President's Cup competition.

The 2008 Debating Year

2008 has been a successful year so far for the Society. Victoria has so far recorded the following results:

*6th and 8th place at the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships ("Australs"), with two speakers in the top ten on the tab;
*1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th place at the New Zealand Universities Impromptu Debating Champs ("Easters") as well as the best two speakers and most promising speaker;
*1st and 2nd place at the North Island Novice University Debating Champs ("Thropy"); and
*1st and 2nd place at the New Zealand Universities Prepared Debating Champs ("Joynt Scroll") as well as the best speaker, the most promising speaker, a series of other individual prizes, and the best adjudicator.

The 2007 Debating Year

2007 went down as the most successful year in the history of the Debating Society. Victoria recorded the following results:

*2nd place at the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships ("Australs"), as well as the tournament's best speaker and best speaker in the Grand Final (Sayeqa Islam);
*Two breaking teams at the World Universities Debating Championships (which finished 20th and 27th) and nine speakers ranked in the top 100 in the world;
*1st place at the Cambridge Union Intervarsity tournament;
*2nd place at the Oxford Union Intervarsity tournament;
*2nd place at the University College Dublin Literary and Historical Society Intervarsity tournament;
*8th place at the Australian Intervarsity Debating Championships ("Australian Easters")
*1st, 2nd, and 5th at the New Zealand Universities Impromptu Debating Champs ("Easters") as well as the best speaker;
*1st and 4th place at the New Zealand Universities Prepared Debating Champs ("Joynt Scroll") as well as the best speaker;
*1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th place at the New Zealand British Parliamentary Open Debating Championships, as well as the best speaker;
*1st and 3rd place at the North Island Novice University Debating Champs ("Thropy") as well as the best speaker;

In addition:

* Polly Higbee was named as a member of the NZ Universities Impromptu Debating Team and Best Speaker at Easters;
* Joe Connell was named as a member of the NZ Universities Prepared Debating Team and Best Speaker at Joynt Scroll;
* Gareth Richards was named as the best speaker of the New Zealand British Parliamentary Open Debating Champs;
* Joe Connell was named as the best adjudicator at Easters;

New Zealand British Parliamentary Open Debating Championships

Each year in December the Society organises a New Zealand invitational tournament, open to international teams and adjudicators. The tournament was first run in 2004 as the "Victoria IV". In 2006, the tournament became officially known as the "New Zealand British Parliamentary Open Debating Championships".

Past winners from Victoria:

*2007: Christopher Bishop & Gareth Richards
*2005: Christopher Bishop & Gareth Richards
*2004: Christopher Bishop & Gareth Richards

Past Best Speakers from Victoria:

*2007: Gareth Richards
*2006: Kevin Moar & Sayeqa Islam
*2005: Sayeqa Islam
*2004: Joe Connell

Winners of Joynt Scroll

The VUW Debating Society has won "Joynt Scroll", the New Zealand Universities Prepared Debating Championships, more often than any other Debating Society in New Zealand.

*2008: J.C Pring, K.L Errington & S.J Templeton
*2007: C.J.S Bishop, J.S Connell & S.A Whittington
*2006: H.A McCaffrey, P.H Higbee & L.J Holden
*2003: C.J.S. Bishop, R. Clouston & S. Islam
*2002: K.A.J. Moar, N.V Willis & D. Small
*2000: A. Livesey, C. Payne & D. Small
*1997: D.R Orange, H.M Finlay & B.J Gandy
*1994: Miss C.M Williams, N.C Miller & B. Cash
*1993: Miss C.M Williams, N.C Miller & Miss A.J Gillespie
*1988: A.M Crawley, A.E Howman & D. Capie
*1985: I.R Rennie, J.R King & D.I Stevens
*1984: N.J.A Sainsbury, J.R King & D.I Stevens
*1982: P.F Biggs, J.R Allen & D.I Stevens
*1981: N.J.A Sainsbury, Ms M.D McCallum & Miss B.D Golder
*1980: R.P Baker, P.M Ridley-Smith & R.K Stephenson
*1978: D. Linney, S. Kos & R.P Baker
*1977: C.D Falconer BA (Hons), D. Linney & R.P Baker
*1976: C.D Falconer BA (Hons), D. Linney & V. Goldblatt MA (Hons)
*1972: T.J Groser BA, P.F Boshier & R.A Campbell BA
*1971: H.P Stubbs, J.G Blincoe & E.R Fairbrother
*1970: H.S Hancock BA, H.P Stubbs & P.P Butler
*1969: Miss B.A Foot, H.P Stubbs & B.R Newell
*1966: J.C.M Rose BSc, G.P Curry & S.A Whitehouse
*1965: P.J.R Blizard BA (Hons), D.A Shand & A.H Ashenden BCom
*1964: P.J.R Blizard BA & J.B McKinley
*1961: T.A Roberts & F.A Hamlin
*1958: E.W Thomas LLB & J.M Whitta BCom
*1943: Miss H. O'Flynn & K.T Fowler
*1942: W. Wah & Miss B. Hutchinson
*1940: P.J Sheehan & H.C Bowyer
*1939: R.W Edgely & R.L Meek
*1937: A.R Perry LLM & S.G Andrews MA
*1932: H.R Bannister & Miss C.S Forde
*1931: W.J Mountjoy & H.R Bannister
*1928: J.F Platts-Mills & W.P Rollings
*1925: S.E Baume & R.M Campbell
*1923: J.W.C Davidson & F.H Haig
*1919: E. Evans & W.E Leicester
*1915: I.M Moss & L.P Leary
*1914: G.G.G Watson MA/LLB & A.B Sievwright
*1912: F.G Hall Jones BA & G.W Morice MA
*1911: C.H Taylor MA & M.H Oram MA
*1909: D.S Smith & G.H Gibb
*1908: J. Mason & H.E Evans
*1907: B.E Murphy BA & H.F O'Leary
*1906: E.J Fitzgibbon & F.P Kelly

Winners of Officers' Cup

The VUW Debating Society has won the Officers' Cup, the New Zealand Universities Impromptu Debating Championships, for the last ten years.

*2008: Polly Higbee & Richard D'Ath
*2007: Yogesh Patel & Stephen Whittington
*2006: Tom Fitzsimons & Stephen Whittington
*2005: Christopher Bishop & Joe Connell
*2004: Christopher Bishop & Gareth Richards
*2003: Ranald Clouston & Sayeqa Islam
*2002: Chelsea Payne & Nicola Willis
*2001: Kevin Moar & Nicola Willis
*2000: Chelsea Payne & Duncan Small
*1999: Matt Cuthell & Angela Ballantyne
*1997: Rob Salmond & Ryan Orange
*1996: Rob Salmond & Ryan Orange
*1990: M Hickey & Justine Munro

Winners of the Plunket Medal

*2008: R. D'Ath
*2007: R.W Allan
*2006: J.S Connell
*2005: R.D Christie
*2004: C. King
*2003: M.F Mabbett
*2000: R. Clouston
*1999: M. Cuthell
*1998: G. Cameron
*1997: B.G.A Morris
*1996: D.R Orange
*1995: C. Holland
*1994: R. Salmond
*1993: Miss C.M Williams
*1992: Miss A.J Gillespie
*1991: N.C Miller
*1990: Miss M.V Myers
*1989: P. Diamond
*1988: M.J Hickey
*1987: N.D.J Coyle
*1986: C.F Ryder
*1985: J.M.R Fowler
*1984: R.P Baker
*1983: Miss J. Wilson
*1982: N.J Sainsbury
*1981: J.C Roseveare
*1980: P.R Biggs
*1979: D.R Cotterall
*1978: L. O'Connor
*1977: Miss H. Sinclair
*1976: J. Bishop
*1975: P. Greene
*1974: R. Fairbrother
*1973: Miss V. Mooney
*1972: B. Newell
*1971: D. L Hutchinson
*1970: H.S Hancock
*1969: Miss B.A Foot
*1968: S. Italio
*1967: P.P Butler
*1966: J.R Wareham
*1965: A.H Ashenden
*1964: P.J Blizard
*1963: A. Afeaki
*1962: T.A Roberts
*1961: F.A Hamlin
*1960: Miss M. Boyle
*1959: W. Waddell
*1958: J.M Whitta
*1957: W.D Dent
*1956: H.C MacNeil
*1955: G.N Cruden
*1954: B.M Brown
*1953: D.R Murray
*1952: C.V Bollinger
*1951: F.L Curtin
*1950: M.F McIntyre
*1949: H.J Brenda
*1948: A.J Williams
*1947: J.D Milburn
*1946: K.B O'Brien
*1945: K.L Neuberg
*1944: J.C.P Williams
*1943: H.M.B O'Leary
*1942: Miss M.C Crompton
*1941: L. Nathan
*1940: J.B Bergin
*1939: B.M O'Connor
*1938: W. Wah
*1937: A.H Scotney MA
*1936: J.B Aimers
*1935: K.J.T Tahiwi
*1934: R.J Larkin
*1933: A. Katz
*1932: Miss C.S Forde
*1931: Miss Z.R.M Henderson
*1930: A.E Hurley
*1929: A.D Priestley
*1928: W.J Mountjoy
*1927: W.P Pollinger
*1926: J.F Platts-Mills
*1925: S.E Baume
*1924: J.W Davidson
*1923: I.L Hjorring
*1922: P.J.G Smith
*1921: A.S Tonkin
*1920: W.E Leicester
*1919: C.G Kirk
*1918: P. Martin-Smith
*1917: Miss M. Neumann
*1916: E. Evans
*1913: Miss M.L Nicholls
*1912: O.C Mazengarb MA
*1911: F.G Hall Jones
*1910: M.H Oram MA
*1909: G.W Morice
*1908: D.S Smith
*1907: F.P Kelly
*1906: H.F O'Leary
*1905: E.J Fitzgibbon

Past Presidents

*2008: Christopher Bishop
*2007: Christopher Bishop
*2006: James Clark
*2005: Gareth Richards
*2004: Sayeqa Islam
*2003: Malcolm Birdling
*2002: Chelsea Payne
*2001: Chelsea Payne
*2000: Antonia Reid
*1999: Matthew Cuthell [more to come]

Life Members

*Sayeqa Islam
*Kevin Moar
*Neil Miller
*Don Stevens
*Phillippa Doyle

Interesting information about the Society

The Society has adopted the song 'Victoria' by The Exponents as its unofficial anthem, sung on celebratory occasions like when a tournament is won.

Prominent debaters from the Society often go on to become Rhodes Scholars. Two of Victoria University's recent Rhodes Scholars, Malcolm Birdling and Chelsea Payne, were both Presidents of the Society, as have been a number of Rhodes Scholars before them, such as Alexandra Gillespie, and John Platts-Mills.

The Society has honours boards (maintained by the University) in the bottom foyer of the historic Hunter Building at Victoria University. The original wooden honours boards were maintained and restored when the Hunter Building itself was restored and renovated in the early 1990s. The honours boards list (by year) Victoria students who have won the Joynt Scroll, the Bledisloe Medal for Oratory, the Plunket Medal, and the Union Prize (now defunct).

Notable former members

*Christopher Finlayson - National Party List MP
*Russell Fairbrother - Labour Party MP
* John Allen - CEO of NZ Post
*Tim Groser - National Party List MP
*Hon Bill English - MP and former leader of the National Party
*Hamish Hancock - former National Party MP and now Crown Counsel.
*Raybon Kan - Comedian, Sunday Star-Times columnist
*John Platts-Mills QC - Rhodes Scholar and UK MP
*Peter Boshier - Principal Judge of the Family Court of New Zealand
*Stephen Kos QC - prominent Wellington silk (formerly Chairman of Partners at Russell McVeagh)
*Sir Matthew Oram - Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives 1950-1957
*Rt.Hon. Sir Humphrey O'Leary KCMG - Chief Justice of New Zealand, 1946-1953
*Rt.Hon. Edmund (Ted) Thomas - acting Justice of the Supreme Court of New Zealand
*Sir Brian Elwood - New Zealand Chief Ombudsman 1994-2003
*Sir David Smith - Justice of the Supreme Court (now the High Court) and Chancellor of Victoria University
*Oswald Chettle Mazengarb QC - Prominent Barrister and author of the Mazengarb Report
* Peter Biggs - Head of Colenso and former Chair of Creative NZ
* Gerard Curry - prominent Auckland barrister (formerly Chairman of Partners at Russell McVeagh and lawyer for Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur)

External links

* [http://www.debsoc.co.nz Society Website]
* [http://www.vicdebsoc.blogspot.com Society's blog]
* [http://www.nzudc.20m.com NZUDC Website]
* [http://www.ouds.zoomshare.com OUDS website]


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