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Otago debaters achieve unprecedented success

Thursday 31 July 2014 8:08am

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Competitors in this year's Debating Australs with University of Otago senior management and Dunedin Mayor David Cull.

Perhaps it’s a case of home-ground advantage, but members of the Otago University Debating Society (OUDS) recently achieved unprecedented levels of success both as competitors and as hosts of the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships (Australs).

Fourth-year Medical student Kieran Bunn ranked eighth best speaker and the top Otago team (Olivia Hall, Kieran Bunn and Alec Dawson) reached the quarter-final round at the competition.

OUDS Publicity Officer Paul Hunt says both results are firsts for Otago.

“Kieran’s achievement is just fantastic and this is the first time in living memory that an Otago team has reached the quarter-final at Australs.”

The tournament also saw OUDS President, John Brinsley-Pirie (sixth-year Law and Politics), and Katarina Schwarz (fifth-year Law and Theatre/Dance) judge the grand final.

"Having two Otago grand-final judges demonstrates that our judges are in the top international tier, further confirming Otago University’s position as one of the top international debating institutions."

"In debating, judging is competitive. Having two Otago grand-final judges demonstrates that our judges are in the top international tier, further confirming Otago University’s position as one of the top international debating institutions," John says.

Hosting the international event – the second largest university-level debating competition in the world – was a year-long undertaking for the organising committee led by Co-Convenors, John Brinsley-Pirie and Sophia Frentz, as well as General Manager, Leon Stirk-Wang.

“Enormous effort went into the tournament’s organisation. Just one glitch can wreak havoc with the entire schedule. Otago Australs was a rare tournament in that basically everything went to plan and there were no major delays,” Paul says.

Success continued for OUDS members at the inaugural Australian and New Zealand Air Law Moot competition held recently in Melbourne.

The Otago team of Law students Kimberly Lawrence and John Brinsley-Pirie won the competition with Kimberly winning best oralist (shared prize). As well, the team won best plaintiff, best defendant, best plaintiff's written outline, and best defendant's written outline (shared).

OUDS is Otago’s oldest society (began in 1878) and established the Otago University Students Association (OUSA) along with the University Rugby Club in 1890. It is supported by Gallaway Cook Allan Lawyers, the Vice-Chancellor and the Faculty of Law.