Whanganui High School won the annual Russell McVeagh Central North Island debating competition in Palmerston North last weekend.

The competition involved 18 schools from across the region debating topics ranging from whether we should memorialise past wars, to whether the first three years of tertiary study should be free.

President of the NZ Schools Debating Council Josh Baxter said the competition was fierce.

"The standard at the Central North Island competition was particularly strong."

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Mr Baxter was especially impressed by the performance of Whanganui High.

"Whanganui have gone from strength to strength really, they often produce some of New Zealand's best debaters. We've seen several individuals from High School represent New Zealand overseas," he said.

Whanganui High debating coach Susan Hughes said she was "extremely proud of how they did".

Overall 12 students from Whanganui took part in the competition - nine from High School and three from Wanganui Collegiate.

Four High School students and two from Palmerston North High have been chosen to represent the region in the national finals.

"Central North Island has a proud record at the nation competition, having made it to the knockout stage despite not having as many weekly rounds as the others. It's certainly a team that punches above its weight," said Mr Baxter.

The national finalists are eligible to be one of a five-person team selected to travel to Germany to represent New Zealand in the world championship.