New Zealand Initiative, Wellington | Week 1 – A Free Market Sherlock Holmes

John McMahon

My first week with the New Zealand Initiative (NZI) has come and gone, and yet I feel as though I just hopped off the plane. Planning to arrive two days before commencing my internship made settling in a breeze. Even the inconvenience of furniture missing from my accommodation was fortunate as I now enjoy a spacious room.

After establishing my base of operations, I had time to acclimatise, procure supplies and familiarise myself with the terrain. My first walk to the office seemed completely alien and yet somewhat familiar. Wellington feels like a fusion of the Fremantle cappuccino strip and Perth CBD complete with street art and hipster cafés. For a small city, Wellington can punch well above its weight. I reach the office building and ascend the 12 floors to discover what fate has in store for me the next seven weeks.

I step into the office for the first time to be greeted by friendly faces. It’s the first day but I can already tell that I hit the jackpot with the New Zealand Initiative. After being introduced to each member of the team I’m set up with my own desk and handed a copy of their latest publications, but I would have little time to read. My first task: hunt down the missing addresses of 240 contacts. Now, to most this might seem boring and tedious, but hunting down an address using only a defunct company name and former position for guidance can make anyone feel like Sherlock Holmes.

Due to renovations, the office is a symphony of frantic typing and power tools, accompanied by intermittent office banter. On one unfortunate Wednesday, a contractor also installed a new evacuation alarm system throughout the entire building. This involved testing emergency alarms on and off for 90 minutes and let’s just say I was glad I brought noise cancelling headphones that day. On the upside, the weather has remained pleasant so far, most of the showers have fallen during office hours.

I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds when everyone in NZI shifts back into work mode. I’m especially excited to assist Briar Lipson with her report on the current performance of Partnership Schools. This is a topical issue for the New Zealand government and the recommendations of this report could influence the future existence of Partnership Schools in New Zealand.