The deputy prime minister's daughter was in the Wellington team that won the New Zealand schools' debating championship final in Parliament today, arguing for a motion that goes against politicians' instincts.
The Wellington Black team of Carlos Bowkett (Wellington College), Maria English (Samuel Marsden Collegiate School), and Jodie O'Neil (Chilton St James School) won the national final in a unanimous decision over Wellington Gold, affirming the topic "That citizens initiated referenda should be binding on government".
Such referenda are not legally binding and the Government, in which Maria's father Bill English is deputy prime minister, has made it clear the result of the current referendum on smacking won't spark a law change.
Maria English, who was in the New Zealand schools' debating team that won the 2009 world championships in Athens this year, was named as captain of the New Zealand team to contest the 2010 world schools championships in Qatar.
Also in the team are Nick Cross (Scots College), Jasmin Moran (Chilton St James School), Josh Baxter (Auckland Grammar) and Aria Newfield (St Cuthbert's College).