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Debate leads in Student Press Awards Alongside Critic

By David Wiliams (he/him)

Debate won six first-place awards and placed in eight other categories in a record night at the 2021 Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards.

AUT's student magazine led amongst eight student magazines, coming second for first place wins behind Otago University's Critic Te Arohi. Over 50 judges helped award 18 prizes, including journalists, authors, artists, and designers based here in Aotearoa and abroad.

Student News Reporter Justin Wong claimed the win for Best Student Politics Coverage. Business Desk Reporter and Debate alum Daniel Brunskill called his piece "Hikuwai Sounds Deep in the Red" a “really great yarn about uni finances (everyone’s favourite topic).”

Current Debate Editor Nam Woon Kim came first in the Best Reviewer category for his works “The Sexiest Albums of 2020”, “Where I Read Way too Deeply Into the Food From My Favourite Movies and Co.” and “Ping Pong the Animation: the ultimate comfort show.” Nam also placed third in the Best Photographer award.

The Spinoff’s Culture Editor Sam Brooks praised Nam as “an incredibly strong, conversational voice, and a really great talent for capturing something with vivid language.”

Alana McConnell placed second on Best Headline with “Bullshit Operations Specialist: Your corporate dreams are bullshit”. Stuff’s Business Editor Susan Edmunds proclaimed that the title is “appropriately dream-crushing.” Her story on O-week drug testing also came joint third for Best Feature.

Designer Kwok Yi Lee came first in the Best Design category. House & Garden magazine’s Art Director Sacha Wackrow, said Debate is “the standout winner by a mile.”

Illustrator Yi Jong won the awards for best cover and best illustrator, with The Spinoff’s Creative Director Toby Morris calling Yi’s work “very impressive.”

Justin Hu placed second in the Best News Reporter category for his coverage of cheating in online exams, Māori academics' criticism of AUT’s use of indigenous values, and the closing of Auckland’s favourite Korean pancake restaurant. Stuff’s National Correspondent Charlie Mitchell said Justin’s writing is “a joy to read.”

Editorial Assistant Andrew Broadley won second place in the Best Humour/ Satire category. Writer and comedian Robbie Nichol dubbed Andrew’s writing “thoughtful and honest but manages to avoid being self-important” adding “he can craft a think-piece, a silly quiz, and a listicle with charming and funny observations.”

Briar Pomana picked up the win for Best Creative Writing, Fiction, or Poetry for her two creative writing pieces. Writer Mandy Hager described her stories as “rich in nostalgia and vivid detail, with a real feeling of intimacy and very atmospheric.”

Debate also won third best website. Writer Tze Ming Mok said of the website “very clean and soothing.” Other publications also scored their share of wins at the awards. Critic Te Arohi won Best Publication for the fifth year, while also winning Best Story and Best News Reporter. Following Critic and Debate, Massey University’s Massive won four first-place awards. Meanwhile, the University of Auckland's Craccum won Best Column with nine runner-up positions.

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