ABOUT

What We Do...

We have something for everyone – whether you’re a beginner debater, a competitive debater, or simply wanting to make some friends and find out more about the world. We meet every Thursday night at 6 pm in 206-220.  You can participate in our internal debating tournament, watch some of our finest debaters in action, learn how to judge debates, or brush up on your debating skills by attending our coaching sessions. We also run seminars before the Law 121 essay and exam and the Law 131 and Law 141 exams.

Debsoc is also a very social club! We regularly host events such as the Pub Quiz and Comedy Backwards Debate, as well as our Opening Night Party and of course, Thropy (the weekend-long debating tournament/party).

Our members are always up for a chat about anything and everything. We also have a great profile on campus, with a host of different public debates.  Past celebrity participants include MP Shane Jones and retired Supreme Court Judge Sir Edmund ‘Ted’ Thomas. But first and foremost, we’re a debating club.  

We send speakers to a huge number of tournaments, both amateur and competitive, throughout New Zealand and the rest of the world. We are always competitive domestically, and are forging an ever-stronger presence on the international stage as well.

Our clubs constitution, policies' and minutes can be found at the links below.

Meet the 2022 executive...

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AISHA
O'MALLEY

President

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Josh
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HARRY
AICKIN

Vice President

JOSHUA
SAMPSON

Treasurer

GRACE
BAYLIS

Women's and Minorities Officer

HARPER
SMITH

External Officer

ANTHONY
MILLINGTON

Internal Officer

OLIVIA
HARDIENEIL

Internal Officer

MELISSA
CONNOLLY

Development Officer

LIAM
BARNES

First-Year Representative

History

The University of Auckland Debating Society was originally established in 1887 as the Auckland University College Debating Society. It held its first debate on July 29, 1887, chaired by Sir Maurice O’Rorke, with the topic, “the payment of members of the House of Representatives is for the best interests of New Zealand“.

We’ve listed topics debated in our early years below.  Some of these topics show that we tackled serious issues from our inception.  Topics such as “Is the influence of the State for good or evil” remain as relevant today as they were over a century ago.

  • “That the advantages of the unrestricted freedom of the Press outweigh the disadvantages,” (6 July, 1888)

  • “Is any further limitation on the liberty of the Press desirable?” (13 May, 1890)

  • “Is the influence of the State for good or evil?”

  • “Does Education add to human happiness?” (19 August, 1891).

  • “That the power of the British nation has culminated and is now declining.” (28 May, 1903)

  • “Should New Zealand join the Australian Federation League?” (8 July, 1891).

 

Unfortunately our long history means that some of our topics also reflect societal bigotry.

 

  •  “That the Maori race is doomed to destruction” (proposed 2 April, 1900).

  • “That Chinese should be excluded from the colony” (27 April, 1888)

  • “Are the present encroachments of women justifiable?” (May, 1898)

  • “The Chinese invasion of Auckland” (22 May, 1889)

  • “Should suffrage be extended to women?” (10 May, 1891)

 

Clearly humor was relevant in Auckland debating over a century ago, as it remains today. Less serious topics have included:

  • “Is the North Pole worth finding?” (9 December, 1897)

  • “That the custom of afternoon tea is pernicious,” (proposed 14 April, 1902)

  • “Is life worth living?” (proposed 8 January, 1903)

 

Today we are New Zealand's largest and most successful debating society. Each year we have hundreds of members.  We won both major domestic tournaments in 2020 and 2021, were semi-finalists at Worlds' in 2015 and 2021, and semi-finalists at Australs in 2020 and 2021 (another team made the quarter finals!). In addition our novices won the north island novice championship in 2020 and made the finals in 2021.

The Right Honourable Jonathan Hunt, ONZ has been the Debating Society’s patron since 2009.

Jonathan is an alumni of our university and was an active member in the Debating Society during his years as a student. Our minute books make frequent reference to his attendance, including his selection onto a Joynt Scroll team.

Known as ‘father of the House’, Jonathan was the longest-serving Member of Parliament until he resigned in March 2005 to take up positions as New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and Ambassador to Ireland.

During his time in Parliament, Jonathan served as Whip, Deputy Speaker and was a Minister in the Fourth Labour Government. Jonathan also instigated of the Adult Adoption Information Act of 1985. He was unanimously elected Speaker in December 1999, and returned to the position in 2002.

Jonathan was appointed to the Order of New Zealand for services to Parliament in the New Year Honours List 2005. He then received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland in 2006.

We are very excited to have Jonathan as our patron.

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