Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

New Zealand Initiative

Brandon Amaral Week 7/8

Brandon Amaral, 25 January 2016

This week the Initiative’s Head of Research, Dr Eric Crampton, had a specific task for me. He wanted me to find out the reasons behind New Zealand’s rapid improvement in the NCEA pass rate over the last five years. The NCEA (The National Certificate of Educational Achievement) is the main national qualification for secondary school students in New Zealand.

After the release of this year’s much-improved NCEA pass rate, more people have criticised the system of being inflated and not realistic. As such, this week I spent most of my time researching the NCEA system and how it has changed over the years.

On Wednesday, the Initiative welcomed a new researcher to the team by joining for some morning tea cake and pastries. His name is Roger and he is going to help me with my research of the Dutch Standard Cost Model in the coming weeks.

Morning Tea Spread

On Saturday night, I finally went down to explore Wellington’s famous Night Market on the busy Cuba Street. To my surprise, the street was buzzing with activity and so vibrant. There was a range of affordable food stalls that sold traditional international food, which I took advantage of. As you roamed around the market, you couldn’t miss the endless entertainment of musicians and people in Halloween costumes.

The Start of Wellington's Night Market on Cuba St

Brandon Amaral Week 5/6

Brandon Amaral, 11 January 2016

After a well deserved break, the New Zealand Initiative offices were finally back and running in 2016.

Over the festive season I was lucky enough to return back to Perth for a few days to spend some time with my family and friends and to celebrate the New Year. It was also a great opportunity to unload a few of my experiences and journeys that I had in New Zealand whilst they were still fresh in my mind.

As I recalled my journey in New Zealand to more and more of my family and friends, it made me realise how grateful I was to have such an opportunity even more. These international internships provide so many incredible experiences, from the actual internship research itself to the life experiences gained from roaming the city streets. I honestly feel that I have learnt more about myself in this last month in New Zealand than I did in the twelve months before.

Looking back at my short time at the New Zealand Initiative, I have already achieved and experienced so much. I have spoken to highly regarded professionals, listened to debated policy topics and heavily researched the pros and cons of potential policies.

Even though it has only just been over a month, I feel like I know the ins and outs of Wellington city like I am local. On my journey through the streets of the city, I have come across a number of monuments and alleyways that I thought showed the real beauty of the city, which I would like to share.

Midland Park

Plimmers Steps

Brandon Amaral – Week 4

Brandon Amaral, 28 December 2015

Having Christmas fall on the Friday of this week meant that the New Zealand Initiative offices were having yet another short working week. However the office did have to grind to the last working day of Christmas Eve.

With the Christmas holidays only being days away, some of my colleagues were allowed to leave early throughout the week to spend time with their family and friends. This however didn’t stop the office becoming louder and louder during the week.

This week was all about planning for the New Year. The office calendar revealed that the first few months of the New Year would be very busy, due to several publications, reports and events that need to be done. As a result, I continued my administrative tasks that would ease the pressure of some of my colleagues when the office returned from the festive break.

After work, I spent most of my time shopping for Christmas presents for my family and friends, which I definitely should have done earlier. As expected, shopping on the last week of Christmas was chaotic, but I managed to get my presents organised. I even bought a few New Zealand souvenirs at a great bargain including a kiwi soft toy and key ring.

Bucket Fountain on Cuba Street

Decorative Christmas Tree on Lambton Quay

Brandon Amaral – Week 3

Brandon Amaral, 21 December 2015

This week the Initiative had a short working week as we celebrated the upcoming Christmas holidays and the end of 2015 on the Friday.

With everyone in such a great mood this week, I was allowed to take a break from researching. Instead I spent most of my time this week organising the invitation list of the New Zealand Initiative’s upcoming event next year.

On Friday the real holiday celebrations kicked-in, as the office went down to a fancy Italian restaurant on the waterfront for lunch and drinks. I got to enjoy my favourite spaghetti marina with some champagne on the side. Having a great time, we stayed at the restaurant until the manager had to usher us out to the bar.

This was definitely the highlight of the week.

The office celebrating the upcoming holidays

I forgot to mention, at the restaurant everyone opened his or her Secret Santa present. To my delight, I got a packet of New Zealand’s iconic Pineapple Lumps and Marmite, which I had never tasted before but were delicious. You might also be wondering why the number 36 is written on my gift bag. It’s because that’s the nickname the office gave me. I will explain why that’s my nickname in my next blog.

My Secret Santa Present

The office also loved my Secret Santa gift of a selfie stick as you can see in the photos.

Having fun with a selfie stick

Brandon Amaral – Week 2

Brandon Amaral, 14 December 2015

My second week at the New Zealand Initiative has passed and it didn’t disappoint.

This week the team celebrated the last issue of the New Zealand Initiative Insights for the year, allowing the team to catch a breath and finally ease into the holiday spirit. In accordance, one of my colleagues decided to bake some delicious Christmas cookies for the office.

During the week the office organised a game of Secret Santa – an annual ritual for the office. So after work, I spent most of the days looking for the perfect gift for my chosen co-worker.

On Saturday, I explored the rich and beautiful botanic gardens of Wellington, which sit on a peak overlooking the city. I was happy to see that Australia’s flowers featured in the gardens, and had a zone separated for them. I found that the gardens were very similar to Kings Park botanic gardens except that in Wellington you can take cable cars up to the botanic gardens. I think Perth should get something similar.

View from the Wellington's Botanic Gardens

Wellington Botanic Gardens

On Sunday it was the annual Santa Parade that has been going since 1949. I went down to the streets of the city with thousands of others to witness this amazing performance. It was an hour-long parade of marching bands, Christmas jingles, famous icons and finally Santa on a sled wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

Santa Claus at the Annual Christmas Parade

This week couldn’t have been better, and I look forward for more Christmas festivity next week.

Brandon Amaral – Week 1

Brandon Amaral, 7 December 2015

After restlessly waiting in Perth and counting down the days till I left to Wellington, I have finally begun my international scholarship at the New Zealand Initiative.

More than that, I have officially completed one whole week and it has been an amazing experience.

On the Monday morning, I quickly became a part of the morning rush to work as I headed down to the New Zealand Initiative’s office located in the centre of the city. Once arriving, I was happily welcomed to the floor and introduced to everyone on the team by Dr Oliver Hartwich who is the executive director.

I was assigned my own desk in the research room, where I sit near experienced researchers and was given my initial tasks to complete. This week I spent most of my time researching the success of the Dutch Standard Cost Model to update Dr Oliver Hartwich, who had previously written an article on the topic.

Furthermore, I had the pleasure to listen to some of my colleagues practice their speeches on economic growth, which they were going to deliver on the weekend. I quickly realised that the team were extremely fond of cookies in the workplace, and took every opportunity to bring them to the office, as you can see by the red tub of Christmas cookies in the photos.

On Friday, I learnt about the economics behind dating and marriage from Eric Crampton (head of research), which I thought was fascinating and definitely the most interesting economics topic I had discussed.

I can’t wait to start the next week at the New Zealand Initiative and I am ready to explore some more!

Amber Salisbury – New Zealand Initiative – Week 6

AmberSalisbury, 4 August 2015

Sadly this was my very last week in New Zealand.

I spent most of the week preparing for the debates that the New Zealand Initiative organises. Top university level debaters go to different high schools and debate various topics in a tournament. Some of these topics include a parents right to spy on their kids, and the right for teachers to contact students via social media. I helped make the run sheets for the schools and New Zealand Initiative staff, as well as the travel itineraries given to the corporate cabs, the invitations and the debaters biographies.

On Tuesday I went to my collegue Jason Krupp’s house for dinner. He lives in a great place nearby called Island Bay and has the two cutest dogs. Jason cooked an amazing chicken and mushroom dish and his wife Mary cooked a desert made from chickpeas! It was delicious.

On Wednesday, for afternoon tea, my collegue Khyaati Acharya took me to a french cafe right next door to the office. She treated me to a very yummy hot chocolate with coconut milk and a lychee cake. One thing that I love about Wellington is all the different cuisines they have.

After work Khyaati and I went to backbenchers. It’s a bar called backbenchers that films a TV show. They put politicians on a bench and ask them questions on relevant topics. Some of the topics included investment into the regions, the amount of money spent on health care and the maori language. It was really interesting and both the politicians and audience got very involved.

Friday was my last day in the office!

Dr. Oliver Hartwich very kindly took me out for a farewell lunch with his friend Luke Malpass, who he used to work with. We went to one of Oliver’s regulars, so he chose some really tasty tapas dishes for all of us.

Then later on in the afternoon we had farewell drinks!

Everyone at the Initiative even got me a present! Which I wasn’t expecting at all. It’s a book of all the amazing New Zealand Landscapes, which will be a great souvenir and also makes me want to visit all the other places in New Zealand!

I have had an absolutely brilliant time, I can’t thank Mannkal or everyone at the New Zealand Initiative enough for this opportunity. Being able to travel to a new place and experience how a think tank operates and taking part in the research has been incredible. It has helped me make some immense life decisions and allowed me to become more independent and confident. I hope that one day I’ll get to see everyone at the New Zealand Initiative again.

Amber Salisbury – New Zealand Initiative – Week 5

AmberSalisbury, 27 July 2015

I had a short working week at the Initiative as I went to Queenstown for a long weekend.

During the week, I was taught how to use ISUU and Zeald software. I was taught, using these softwares, how to make changes to their website. It was pretty cool to see how it works from the back end. I made changes to practically every page.

Other work I did included finishing of my op-ed! I also had reading tasks for Dr. Oliver Hartwich. I had to read the reports given out by Westpac, ANZ and BNZ on the New Zealand economy. I made notes on inflation, exchange rates, economic growth, trade, dairy prices and housing prices then gave them to Oliver to use.

On Friday morning, I flew to Queenstown.

When I got there I did the gondola and luge. While on the gondola I saw some people that I went to school with in Perth! That was a funny coincidence. I also had the buffet lunch, which was amazing. I had 3 servings of mains and 3 servings of desert!

On Saturday I did the nevis bungee and swing!!

It was the best experience I’ve ever had! I wasn’t feeling scared on the bus, or waiting in line, but when I had to walk onto the little square plank, I was so nervous. I had a moment where I just thought I couldn’t do it. Then the count down started and when it was time without thinking I just jumped. It was amazing. Afterwards I wondered why I was ever even scared.

I was so incredibly happy after the bungee and then I did nevis swing! I was still feeling confident from the bungee so I didn’t have any fears about the swing. I got into the harness, and I also decided to do it backwards, and then was moved into the air. The man was talking to me, just asking questions, then without any notice just pressed the button and I dropped! It was sooo fun!

I think my favourite was the bungee, mainly because it was the one I was most scared for, so I felt more accomplished afterwards.

On Sunday I went down to coronet peak and went skiing! I haven’t skied in about eight years. Luckily it came back very quickly. It was great to be back out on the mountain again.

It was an amazing week, I cannot believe that next week will be my last! The time has gone incredibly fast! I am very much looking forward to the coming week and will definitely make the most of my last moments here.

Week 4 – Amber Salisbury – New Zealand Initiative

AmberSalisbury, 21 July 2015

This week has been very busy for the Initiative.

On Monday, we had an new member of staff come and join us. Her name is Martine and she is the new education researcher. She is already fitting in perfectly.

On Thursday, Dr. Bryce Wilkinson’s (senior fellow) publication on Scaffolding was released. So a collegue and I did a whole lot of mailing. Previously I had also created a contact list consisting of helath and safety parliament members and large building companies to whom the publication was sent to. The publication is called: A Matter of Balance: Regulating Safety. It discusses the costs associated with the change in WorkSafe regulations, mandating scaffolding for roof repairs.

On Friday, we decided to celebrate our very culturally diverse office with a delicious shared lunch.

We had food from India, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and beer from Germany. I tried the famous kiwi dip and whittaker’s chocolate . To represent Australia I took an easy option and bought some party pies and sausage rolls as my cooking skills aren’t the greatest.

During the week I also worked on my Op-ed with the help of my colleague Jason Krupp. The Op-ed is discussing Barnaby Joyce’s claim that same-sex marriage will harm Australia’s trade with Asia.

On the weekend, I caught the bus down to Rotorua. On Saturday evening, I went to the Mitai Village tour. They showed us how they used to cook using hangi, then we saw them kayaking in their village. Following this, we watched a performance. In the performance they sang a range of songs in maori and also taught us about their culture. At the end we had a feast of food, which was cooked using hangi.

On Sunday morning, I went to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. It was incredible, the smell was not as nice though. And the water is 100 degrees!

In the afternoon, I went to the Hobbiton movie set! It was so cool to see where the movie was set and all the techniques they used, for example they have two different sized hobbit holes. One that Gandalf walks past and one the hobbits walk past, to make Gandalf seem even bigger in comparison.

Every week I don’t think things could get any better, but somehow it does!

Week 3 – Amber Salisbury – New Zealand Initiative

AmberSalisbury, 20 July 2015

I can’t believe I’m now half way through my internship, the time has gone so fast.

This week I finished my article and it was also published!

I’ve written about the reasons why smoking bans in prisons should not be implemented.

Feel free to take a look, and at the other articles the New Zealand Initiative has published.

I also spent time working on the presentation about New Zealand and Asia that Dr Oliver Hartwich will be presenting, which I was researching in the first week. It’s about New Zealand being a part of the Asian century and provides data on the benefits that Asia is bringing New Zealand such as trade, science and innovation, tourism, growth and also has data on New Zealand’s attitude towards Asia.

There were two birthdays in the office this week. On Wednesday it was Oliver’s birthday. At about 3pm we had french chocolate cake and wine, and his family came in and joined us. On the Friday it was Stephanie Morrison’s birthday (communications officer) so we finished the day early and had cheese with biscuits and wine.

On the weekend, I went with a couple of friends to visit Picton.

We took the interislander ferry across the cook straight, which was incredible.

We were so lucky with the weather, it was forecasted for sleet but ended up being very sunny!

Here’s a photo of us at the front of the city:

We also went on a 4 hour walk up a mountain, which was really cool and had the best view.

Again it was a great week, I’m so grateful that I was given this opportunity!