Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America

10 Students from Te Piringa – Faculty of Law had the opportunity to travel and learn in Chile in 2018 as part of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America.

The Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Latin America (PMSLA) is a new outbound scholarship funded by the New Zealand government. This new scholarship find builds on the success of the Prime Ministers Scholarships to Asia.

It’s main aims are to:

  • Strengthen New Zealand institutions’ connections with their counterparts in key Latin America countries
  • Promote understanding of the strength and quality of New Zealand’s education system and raise awareness in Latin America of New Zealand as a preferred education destination
  • Improve the international skills of the New Zealand workforce
  • Strengthen people to people connections between New Zealand and countries in Latin America through participants building lifelong friendships and networks.
  • Strengthen New Zealand’s ability to engage with key Latin American trading partners
  • Improve New Zealanders’ understanding of Latin American business practice and culture

Our students have had a busy 2 weeks experiencing the culture of Latin America. The focus for the group has been developing an understanding of the unique legal environment in Latin America, visiting law firms to see first hand law in action and experiencing study in a different tertiary environment.

Our 10 students share their journey...

PMSLA Report Week 1: Chile – A Vibrant, Diverse and Beautiful Country!


Our first week in Santiago was amazing! After a 12-hour flight, we arrived in the capital of Chile, as ten eager, but extremely tired students. Despite most of us having no fluency in Spanish, we made our way through customs and eventually to our accommodation. The following day, we had an exciting visit to Santa Lucía Hill. Some of us decided to walk our way to the top, while the rest took the cable cars. At the top, the view was breath-taking! The snow-capped, foggy Andes mountains served as a beautiful backdrop to the city as a whole and it was definitely worth the steep climb or ride up!

Our next stop was the port city of Valparaíso! This is where we will be residing for the rest of our tenure in Chile! On Monday morning, we set off to the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV), which would be our host university for the next four weeks! We were warmly welcomed by the Director of Law, Professor Manuel Nuñez and other staff from the International Office. After an initial briefing on what was to follow during our stay, we were pleasantly surprised by a cocktail they had arranged for us! This was a great time to mingle with faculty staff and at the end, we were even presented with a special PUCV jumper and scarf each.

That afternoon, we eagerly set off on a “Walking Tour of Valparaíso”. This comprised of us walking through the colorful hills of Valparaíso and admiring the diverse, bright and vibrant street art that famously adorns the walls of the city. These street arts represent Chilean history, culture and showcase the extremely talented nature of Chilean artists. We finished the day with a boat cruise around the port of Valparaíso and had the pleasure of seeing two sleeping sea lions soaking in the afternoon sun (who would not budge despite our efforts to wake them up!)

On Tuesday, we began the first of our series of daily Spanish lessons, which were followed by a fascinating array of law lectures through the week, including Latin American Public Law, Environmental Protection, and Law and the Free Press - to name a few!

Friday was yet another day on an excursion, with our first visit being Casa de Isla Negra (the Museum of Pablo Neruda). The Museum is one of the famous poet’s three houses and is located on the picturesque sea-side of Isla Negra. The house itself was unlike anything we had ever seen before and truly reflected Pablo Neruda’s love for the sea. It’s very architecture was designed to mimic the inside of a ship at sea, with large windows strategically placed throughout the house to take full advantage of the magnificent coastal views. Each room was carefully decorated with unique gifts the poet had received or souvenirs he had hand-picked throughout his own travels, all of which had undoubtedly, inspired his writing. Our next venture was to Viña Casa Del Bosque, a boutique winery in Casablanca Valley. We were guided around the stunning estate by an enthusiastic Frenchman who explained the process of wine-making, from grape to bottle, and were finally rewarded with tastings of some their award-winning Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah! This marked the end of our first week in Chile.

By Kajol Thanki and Thilini Karunaratne

PMSLA Report Week 4:


Our final week in Chile was a busy one! As per usual our mornings started off with Spanish lessons, followed by a variety of law lectures including Public work concessions, Law of the Sea, good faith in commercial contracts, law and education, human rights and, Easter Island and Rapa Nui legal issues.

We kicked Monday afternoon off with a visit to the National Congress of Chile, the legislative branch of the government. The Congress, founded in 1811, is the fourth oldest in the World. This is where the authorities gather for important ceremonies e.g. the Presidential handover, and public account announcements. It was an amazing time touring around and learning about the different rooms set for each department of the Congress.

On Wednesday we had our last full day visit to Santiago where we visited the New Zealand Embassy. We were all pleased once we entered the building as it felt like “our home, away from home”. It was a pleasure to hear from fellow New Zealanders working with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Education New Zealand. In particular, it was great to hear that Chile is New Zealand’s closest partner for trade and multilateralism, and secondly that New Zealand and Chile are aiming to strengthen the education experience in each country to increase social, cultural and economic benefits. We also heard from a New Zealand lawyer working in Santiago as a legal advisor. He shared his experience on his journey to Chile which was very inspiring to us who are near the end of our law degree.

As our week progressed we came to the realisation that we were soon to be jet setting off home again, it was crazy to think we had spent nearly 4 weeks in our new adopted home. It really didn’t feel like our time abroad was coming to an end. We had our last lectures on Thursday afternoon. It was fascinating to hear an indigenous perspective on the legal issues in Easter Island, for a Rapa Nui student. In particular, it was interesting to hear that most indigenous issues were very similar to New Zealand’s situation, such as colonisation and the flow-on effects of the loss of indigenous language and land right issues etc. We then had our final thank you dinner with some of the Valparaiso University staff that evening. A bit of fine dining was a treat we had all been looking forward too and needless to say the view was had overlooking the Valparaiso port was absolutely stunning.

Friday had come by already! There is no doubt that our last day at Valparaiso University was a very emotional day for us all. As promised we spent our day giving presentations to the lectures on the similarities and differences between our two legal systems. Needless to say, they were very impressed on how well our legal system works due to some of the major differences we have to the Chilean system. As the day progressed saying goodbye to our new friends, lecturers and adopted university was definitely hard, a few tears were shed and lots of promises were made to visit again. After we said goodbye to everyone we took in our last sight of this grand (Harry Potter looking) building we had spent the last 4 weeks at we made our way home to start packing - we were flying home tomorrow!

The day was here, we were going home! There were mixed emotions all round but we all ventured off and did one last activity together to end our time in this beautiful country. We hopped on the train and went horse riding! There is no question there were many, many laughs had at the sights of us doing such an adventurous activity, even Wayne jumped on and to our surprise he was a natural! We were told we were going to be going up and down hills but little did we know that we would be going up a mountain that is barely walkable to the general population. Horse riding was definitely one of the most memorable times we had as a group on this trip and an experience that won’t be forgotten. As we made our way home on the train it had sunk in that in just a matter of hours we would be boarding our plane to come home. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spear and enjoyed browsing duty free before boarding the long haul flight back to Aotearoa. 11 hours later and we took in a big breath of the fresh crisp New Zealand air. You don’t realise how much you appreciate home until you’ve been abroad.

Gracicas to the New Zealand Government and Waikato University for giving us the opportunity to study aboard and make new lifelong friends and connections! We hope to see you again, Chile!

By Kathleen Roberts and Megan Hancock,