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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 14. July 13, 1950

Plunket Medal

Plunket Medal

The zeal and fervour which Victoria University students traditionally display in support of their own activities was well maintained on Saturday evening. Of the 60 or 70 which came along I suppose at least two dozen were present students of the College; and of these I dare say 10 per cent, were Debating Club officials.

If this sort of thing continues in future years the Club win be able to save money and hold the function in a tram shelter or if cosiness Is desired, in a telephone booth.

Jim Milburn, impeccably dressed, opened the proceedings with a few quietly spoken words, detailing the history of the medal, and the society as well as the scope and conditions of the contest. It is indeed a pleasure to be blessed with a chairman of Jim's perception, he spared the audience the agonies of a tedious introduction, but then, Jim is himself, almost the "Burke" of contemporary oratory at V.U.C.

To make a detailed list of the oratical canons which speakers observed or failed to observe would be either presumptuous or platitudiness and probably both. Here, however, are a few impressions, more concerned with "the man in history" rather than with vehicle which drew him into the senses of the audience.

The Thomas Parnell which Mr. Walsh gave us was a damned insurrectionist, or a noble patriot, depending of course on your world view, and whether you eat spuds in Dublin or Beef in Westminster. He made an unfortunate alliance with a woman already married, and his mealy mouthed adversaries capitalised on this to ruin him. The British liberals and the Catholic hierarchy are to blame in part for his downfall but it is the Irish people who must take the ultimate blame. They deserted their leader when he was hard pressed, to their eternal shame.

Frank Curtin told of Simon Bolivar the man who dreamt of liberty and gave tyranny. A madman after the Rousseauan tradition.

Conrad Bollinger spoke of one Gabriel Peri cast against a wall on Mount Valerian prison to face the guns of the Nazi firing squad, the exposer of treasons, the leader of the underground resistance, the scholar and fighter, of lowly stock, from Toulouse.

Mr. Newenham gave us Socrates, the noblest intellect of his own time and probably any other. He was temperate but not a wowser. He was never known to be the worst for liquor. (A pity he couldn't be entered for the drinking home.) A man who respected truth more than he feared the wrath of mob and the oligarchs.

Mr. Sullivan told of Niemoller the man who would defy Hitler to his face and possibly be capable of serving on his warships at another time.

Mr. McIntyre orated upon Thomas of the House of Aquine who might have been a Prince in the church yet preferred the rigours of Dominican Order. He finally associated Christianity and reason, he exalted the dignity of man and showed the impossibility of any knowledge contradicting the basis of Christianity.

Mr. Foy was not, as everyone expected, the comic relief of the evening. He approached Mr. Nash from a non patrisan standpoint It was the tragedy of a man who lost the source of his strength, that is vital contact with the masses. Mr. Nash also always met his commitment.

Mr. Hancock spoke of Tamihana, the bridger of cultures, the hero and yet the traitor. However I am sorry really that he rode up to the British general and threw down his "mere."

The judges were Miss Joan Stevens of the English Dept, Canon Robert shawe and Mr. Casey.

Mr. McIntyre won the medal. Mr. Sullavan and Mr. Curtin being placed second and third. Supper was also served.

Hector MacNeill.