May 26, 2021

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) is sponsoring the 2021 New Zealand Schools’ Debating Championship. The national championship comprises a series of debates over the coming weekend (May 28th to May 31st), culminating in a final knock-out round to be held in the Upper House of Parliament from 2pm on May 31st.

Running since 1988, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is among its many distinguished alumni, along with many others who have gone on to achieve success in business, politics and academia.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to support critical thinking, eloquence and reasoning among the young’, said NZIER’s Chief Executive, Laurence Kubiak. “NZIER was actually established to educate and encourage debate on economic issues affecting New Zealand, so we’re a perfect fit with the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council.”

“For me it’s all about the evidence and using debate to ensure decisions are well thought through” said Christina Leung, NZIER’s Head of Auckland Business and Membership services. “Debating is a vital tool in setting out what the facts are from different sides of the argument, in order to provide a robust platform for key strategic and policy decisions.”

NZIER’s Deputy Chief Executive Todd Krieble has undertaken research on the links between democracy and prosperity. “Democratic societies are more prosperous societies” says Krieble. “The relationship is just too strong to ignore. In a ‘post-truth’ world, it’s critical thinking that safeguards democracy.”

Kubiak agrees, “Staff here at NZIER have proposed the topics for the final debate, and we’ve gone for topics where passions run high – and for good reasons – on both sides of the questions. I’m sure there will be passion at Monday’s debate, but the cut and thrust of the debate will expose empty passion that isn’t rooted in reason or evidence. That’s the opposite of the online echo chamber that often acts as a substitute for thought in today’s world. You can’t just unfollow or unfriend your opponent in a debate, you have to listen to them, and face the points they raise squarely, but civilly.”

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what these incisive young minds and future leaders do with the topics we’ve suggested.”