13 Aug 2015

Kiwi living in tent 'quits UN internship'

9:26 am on 13 August 2015

A New Zealander living in a tent in Geneva has reportedly resigned from his unpaid internship at the United Nations.

David Hyde outside his tent.

David Hyde outside his tent. Photo: Geneva Tribune

Revelations David Hyde had pitched a tent in the city as he could not afford Geneva's expensive rents caused a media sensation. Geneva's Tribune newspaper described his efforts to cope with a torrential rainstorm, climbing out of his sodden tent dressed in a suit and heading off to his unpaid job.

He was camping on ground overlooking Lake Geneva not far from the UN Beach Club, where more affluent staff sunbathed and sipped cocktails at the bar.

Following the publication of the story, the Tribune received dozens of emails and social media comments from local Geneva residents offering accommodation.

But yesterday, he told The Guardian newspaper he had decided to resign.

"I'm announcing my resignation from the United Nations internship programme," he said.

"It's my own decision and I chose to resign because I felt that it would be too difficult to continue to focus on my work as an intern at this stage."

His Christchurch-based mother Vicki Hyde was unable to confirm this morning that her son had decided to quit the internship, and said she had yet to hear from him directly.

Ms Hyde told Morning Report the UN stood for for good governance and equity of opportunity, yet was "exploiting" interns by not paying them for their work.

"It seems that it's only ... rich, white, upper middle class kids that can go and do these sort of things and that's not good for the UN either, an organisation that's supposed to represent us all internationally.

Speaking earlier to the BBC, David Hyde said that during the interview process, the UN had told him clearly that Geneva was an expensive town, and wanted reassurances that he would be able to fund his internship himself.

"I guess my budget was not realistic in the end," he said. "It was way more expensive than I imagined. I thought I could find a really budget way to live, but to be honest I've ended up living in a tent."

The Tribune, meanwhile, has reported that for the rest of his time in Geneva, David Hyde would have a roof over his head. Flooded with offers of help, he had chosen to make contact with New Zealand expats working in international organisations in Geneva, the paper said.