By: Shivani Ranganathan, Mara Hosoda and Amanda Leavall, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Consulate General, Auckland.
On Friday, June 3rd, 2016, Associate Professor Jennifer Curtin from The University of Auckland- Politics and International Relations and Dr. Rhonda Evans, Director from the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, hosted a joint seminar discussing crucial political, cultural, and civic issues facing New Zealand today. U.S. diplomat Craig Halbmaier, a Pol- Econ Officer at the Consulate General, Auckland, was invited to give opening remarks and to observe the thoughtful research contributions by students at the joint seminar.
The students from UT Austin had been working on their presentations since the summer of 2015 with the support and resources of The Clark Center. The first Clark Scholar, Darcey Holender, provided an informative presentation on Parliamentary seats and parliamentary questions in New Zealand. Following the first presentation, Clark Scholar Emily Rohles shared her research contributions on How Gender and Ethnicity shape parliamentary questions in NZ. Both students were challenged with critical questions regarding their research and received feedback from Diplomat Halbamaier, Professor Curtin, and Dr. Evans.
The second session of the educational exchange consisted of presentations from local students at The University of Auckland. Current Bill McAra Scholar Josh van Veen provided thoughtful insights on his research topic, Electoral malaise and the Labour Party in New Zealand. Doctoral Scholar Celestyna Galick presented the final presentation of the seminar Her focus question examined The costs of voting for low socioeconomic, young and migrant voters in New Zealand.
The joint- seminar was an excellent opportunity for educational and cultural exchanges between the United Stated and New Zealand. U.S. Diplomat Craig Halbmaier encouraged future collaboration as such opportunities provide an exceptional educational experience for all participants. The students were grateful to have received feedback for later work as well as the opportunity to answer questions. There is much hope that future collaborations between The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Auckland will take place and more individuals will benefit from such an experience.