US Intern Enjoys New Zealand Experience

It was great to get the chance to experience another political environment. Julia Adams

Here helping Labour on the ground

By Roger Childs

The Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia

Julia Adams is from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, where the American Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July, 1776. Politics is one of her key interests.

She is a student at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, and is doing research in international relations and politics, while studying for a B Sc. Her empirically driven programme touches on fields such as defence, foreign policy and America-China relations.

Earlier in the year she heard from her adviser about the opportunity to go to New Zealand and assist the Labour Party in the lead up to the 2017 general election.

Taking up the opportunity

Otaki Labour candidate, Rob McCann

The interns from the US were promised food and accommodation while in New Zealand, but most paid their own way to get here. Some were given scholarships from their universities.

Julia, and Kayla Hollingsworth from Harvard, were assigned to the Otaki electorate and spent much of their time staying with Rowena and Bruce Taylor in Waikanae. (Bruce is campaign manager for Otaki candidate, Rob McCann.)

Kayla and I have helped out with the daily needed tasks for our candidate, promotion materials for meetings and events, community events like coffee and politics and meeting with local college students on social activism, and working on local community issues based broadsheet/newspaper. Julia Adams

Julia and Kayla also enjoyed

  • attending party meetings
  • talking to politicians
  • door knocking in the Otaki electorate
  • distributing election pamphlets.

Getting value from the experience

Julia and Kayla in Wellington

Julia has found the time in New Zealand an eye opening experience and very informative.

She has enjoyed living in another country; speaking to people involved in the election; being part of a new political environment and seeing politics on a different level from home.

The accessibility people have to politicians in New Zealand, is one difference she has observed compared to the United States.

Others relate to the greater involvement of people in the political process at the grass roots level and the fact that politicians are keen to connect with their constituents.

She has also been impressed with the fact that politics is less able to be influenced by lobby groups and money compared with the US.

A memorable few weeks

Julia returns home next week and will experience much warmer conditions back in Pennsylvania!

She has welcomed the opportunity to be part of the New Zealand political environment for a few weeks and her visit has exceeded expectations.

While in the country she did have the chance to see some of the sights, and visited Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.

One of the highlights was doing a winter trek on the Tongariro Crossing.