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Interns Agree: Being There Is Everything

29 June 2004

Former Aucklander Jamie Holder will be the next National Centre for Research on Europe (NCRE) student to head off to Brussels for a European Parliament internship.

Jamie, who is completing a master’s degree at the University of Canterbury, will leave New Zealand in mid-August and begin her internship in September.

The internship provides post-graduates with an opportunity to experience working for an MEP as well as to assist their own research.

NCRE offers the programme in conjunction with Members of the European Parliament’s Delegation; it forms part of the NCRE’s wider objective to increase New Zealanders’ awareness and understanding of the European Union.

Former NCRE interns have found the hands-on parliamentary experience critical to rounding out their research and study of the European Union.

“Working within the system gives a depth to understanding that no amount of reading books, journals or Internet pages can ever capture,” writes NCRE PhD student Jeffrey McNeill in his trip report .

Jeffrey interned with MEP Frau Ewa Klamt for six weeks then spent the remaining six weeks in the Environment Committee Secretariat under Francis Jacobs.

“My dissertation will take on a new dimension and incorporate new material as a result of both what I observed and my own reflections on those observations. As the Air NZ advertisement says, ‘Being there is everything’ , says Jeffrey, who is a public policy analyst in Palmerston North.

The classical music enthusiast also made the most of his spare time, attending concert performances of baroque operas, Celtic fiddle music, and harpsichord and organ recitals. The highlight, he says, was taking regular baroque bassoon lessons from a leading baroque period bassoonist (none exist in New Zealand) using a reconditioned Victoria University of Wellington instrument.

Jeffrey also visited World War 1 battlefields at Ypres (his grandfather was wounded at Mesen/Messines in 1917 when the NZ Rifle Brigade fought in the Messines Offensive) and attended ANZAC Day there.

Last year, NCRE master’s student Lucy Cassels spent her internship working for MEP Terry Wynn from September to November 2003.

Lucy was asked to research Israeli allegations surrounding alleged Palestinian misuse of European aid money. These allegations had been made following increases in EU aid for Palestine health needs following the onset of the third Intifadah (or uprising) in 2000, she explains.

Lucy reviewed top-secret documents and interviewed high-level operatives to investigate claims that the Palestinian government had been misappropriating European aid money for terrorist purposes.


The NCRE at the University of Canterbury is the only dedicated European research centre in New Zealand. It is a multi-disciplinary Centre of Academic Excellence and Expertise that operates nationally, uniting students and scholars from a wide range of fields to research and study European issues.

The Centre has significant responsibility for the European Union’s outreach efforts within New Zealand and the Pacific. Raising a critical awareness of the EU, informing government, the media and public opinion are all equally important aspects of the NCRE’s core function.


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