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 6pm at Law School. 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 test 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).
And our members are always up for a chat about anything and everything. We also have a great profile on campus, with a column in Craccum every week as well as 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.
Umbar is a fourth year student studying Law and Commerce who is incredibly distressed about the fact that she has spent nearly a third of her life debating. Umbar represented Auckland at Schools' Nationals in high school and has gone on to win the North Island Novice Debating Tournament, Horton's Cup, and Log o' Johnston in first year. She has previously broken at AWDC, Joynt Scroll and Auckland IV, represented Auckland in the finals of NZ Wom*n's, and missed out on break by speaks countless times. Umbar's greatest achievement in her time at Debsoc was co-CAing the NZ Sports Motions tournament in 2019. This year Umbar is excited to make some great new friends at Debsoc and hopefully neglect her degree less than in previous years.
Chenchen is a third year Arts and Science students, majoring in economics, physics, and mathematics. Chenchen was a prominent member of the Wellington schools debating circuit and was reserve to the regional team before continuing his studies in Auckland. In his university debating career, he was ranked the 5th best speaker at Thropy and has attended Malaya Australs as a judge as well as Joynt as a member of Auckland 3. This is Chenchen’s second year on the executive and he hopes to take the debating society to new heights. Outside of debating, Chenchen enjoys chess, Steely Dan records and reading.
Zachary is in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science conjoint, majoring in Economics, Finance and Statistics. He has made a career out of University debating admin and is Chairperson of the World University Debating Council, President of the New Zealand University Debating Council, Treasurer of the New Zealand Schools' Debating Council and Chairperson of Auckland Schools' Debating. Aside from debating admin, Zac enjoys orienteering, politics and dreaming of better public transport for Auckland.
Women's & Minorities Officer
Aisha is a second-year student studying Commerce and Global Studies, majoring in international relations, international business and finance. Aisha debated regionally in Christchurch during high school and was reserve to the regional team before travelling to the Big Smoke to study up there. Her university debating career has consisted of technically winning Thropy, but more importantly, meeting a great group of people. Aisha is a friendly individual willing to chat with anyone about anything on her quest to make more friends and meet more people and wants to use her role this year to ensure both women and minorities are accepted in the debating community and are able to achieve to their highest standard. Aisha can be confidentially contacted regarding any equity matters at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also view the Club's equity policy here.
Daniel is a 6th year arts and law honours student. He has been debating for his whole time at University! Highlights of his debating career include speaker or judge breaks at Australs, Worlds, Officers Cup, Joynt Scroll, Auckland IV, NZBP, and Sydney Mini, as well as winning Joynt Scroll and Thropy. As this year’s development officer, Daniel is looking forward to many practice debates and long chats about we can become better and happier debaters.
Andrey is a third-year student at the university whose current university schedule entirely consists of taking first-year gen-eds to bolster his GPA as he looks to start his Honours degree in Semester 2. A proud member of the STEM minority in the society, Andrey's debating experience has thus far been primarily defined by running cases devised by his far more politically knowledgeable teammates, with varying degrees of success. This year he hopes to work with his co-officer to bring strong, positive change to the Society's weekly club nights. His hobbies are entirely dependent on his levels of motivation, which swing him from devising self-learning algorithms to binge-watching vine compilations in a matter of minutes.
Chris is a third year Law and Arts student who pretends to have a social life outside of debating. He won the Horton Cup and Horton Cup best speaker in 2019 and was also ranked 8th best speaker at Thropy. However he still goes on about winning the junior open competition in year 10. Chris claims to have hobbies.
Liam is a third year Engineering student, specialising in Engineering Science. He started debating in year 10, and twice represented Hawke's Bay at the National School Debating Championships. At university, Liam has debated or judged at Joynt Scroll, Officer's Cup, Australs, Auckland IV, NZBP, the NZ sports motion tournament, and Thropy (in which he debated as a finalist). This is Liam's first year on the exec, but he has also served on the Auckland School's Debating committee so is no stranger to debating related admin. Liam is looking forward to helping the Auckland squad flourish at outside tournaments in 2020.
First Year Representative
Celine is a second year Law and Commerce student majoring in Economics and Finance. Celine has come a long way since winning zero debates at Year 11 Auckland Regionals, and in her first year of uni debating broke at NZ Womens and Australasian Womens, while winning Horton Cup and the North Island Novice Tournament. Most importantly though, she is most proud of being named the first ever “Top Fan” of the UoA Debsoc Facebook page. Celine loves lying in bed and patting her dog DumDum, and hates reading the news.
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.
“Should suffrage be extended to women?” (10 May, 1891)
“Are the present encroachments of women justifiable?” (May, 1898)
“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)
“The Chinese invasion of Auckland” (22 May, 1889)
“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).
Other topics reflect the social prejudices evident at the time:
“That the Maori race is doomed to destruction” (proposed 2 April, 1900).
“That Chinese should be excluded from the colony” (27 April, 1888)
Clearly humour 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. In 2016 we have over 700 members. We were only 1 or 3 universities to break 2 teams at Worlds in 2015, we won Joynt Scroll and Thropy in 2015 and we were in the final of Easters and Australs in 2015. In 2016 Auckland 1 (James Penn and James Rankin) won Easters (the New Zealand Impromptu Debating Championships) and were in the final of Thropy. Auckland is one of the top ten debating universities in the world alongside the likes of Cambridge, Harvard, and Oxford and is also New Zealand's only A tier world ranked university.
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.