More to New Zealand than Moana | #1

As I’m sure many students in international studies programs come to find, it is difficult to procure opportunities where international government entities ask foreigners to work for them and take part in the most influential aspect of democracy. As I finished my third year at the University of Michigan, I was surprised to come across an opportunity not in the USA or Europe, (two land masses quite comfortable to me) but one in New Zealand. How much I knew about New Zealand before coming was rather limited (mainly limited to whatever I’ve learned from watching LOTR, Moana, and friends who have passed through). When we talk about New Zealand we don’t talk about their legal system or the inadequacies of it. We usually discuss its overall happiness, wealth, and distance from the chaos of western countries. I’m already finding that what we know about New Zealand doesn’t amount to even a sixteenth of what the rest of the world knows about the United States.

I firmly believe that the idea of the US being a more important country than others is an unimaginative one. As court cases build up discontent rises and truth is becoming a term associated with subjectivity. All over the world radical politicians have increasing power and followings, fear is dispersing and the pillars of equality and democracy fragment under disbelief. This fear is one that exists even in New Zealand, a country that looks to the United States to be the frontrunner in promoting liberty, equality, and truth. Each country has its own unique system of governance but ultimately people do not differentiate to significantly in their ideals of how wealth is to be distributed and who is to be benefited.  Before I even applied to work for the Labour Party, I began to research what issues a city like Auckland could be facing. How could such a peaceful and prosperous country need a change in government? I came to find that in New Zealand, those who are upper middle class are unable to afford homes (which go for an average price of 1,000,000 NZD), homelessness and student suicide rates increasing, immigration too disallowing families to be reunited. These are not issues unique to New Zealand, but the structure of their legal institutions allows for different privileges.

As to how these structures are upheld is mainly dependent on the majority party, and that’s why I’m in New Zealand. I firmly believe that a Labour government could change New Zealand for the better, that more houses will be built that include state housing for lower income families, that the Maori people will have better accessibility to education and to better lives and that university will become more affordable. Activism starts in the local community, and my job as leader of the Maungakiekie electorate accesses a diverse spectrum of people ranging from low income to high, European, South Asian, and Indigenous roots. By knocking on doors, making calls, leaving flyers, putting on events in the local community and helping our candidate access those who feel disillusioned by NZ politics, I feel I’m making a difference. I am as close as possible to the issues and those that ineffective policy is affecting and through that I’m learning what flaws lie within seemingly just legal systems.


Emily Y

I'm entering my fourth year at the University of Michigan studying International Studies and German Studies. I'm currently a campaign fellow with the New Zealand Labour Party

One thought on “More to New Zealand than Moana | #1

  • June 23, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing such amazing insights on your first few weeks in the internship!


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