Ōtaki Summer Camp is for young people who care about political issues and ideas. It is a chance to hear and discuss interesting ideas, meet and get to know others who care, and explore local mountains, forests and rivers with experienced guides.

The summer camp is geared towards those who are aged between 17 and 35 years old. If you are older, or younger you will need to provide some supporting information when you register, unless you’ve attended a previous camp, then you’re welcome again at this one, irrespective of whether you are now over 35.

Some assume young people in New Zealand don’t care about politics, yet many young people care deeply about the issues affecting Aotearoa and the world. It is more correct to say young people have felt ignored and left out of politics.

The camp will be welcoming, fun, and safe – we have deliberately kept the price as low as possible.

All we ask is that people treat other attendees with respect, stay for the poroporoaki/farewell on Monday, and follow our code of conduct.



Political summer camps are not a new idea and have played an important role in New Zealand’s history.

An annual “congress” was held at Curious Cove in the Marlborough Sounds from 1949 until the 1970s. Organised by the New Zealand University Students Association, it “endeavour[ed] to obtain the best speakers in various fields of knowledge and thought.”

In the 1970s, two more influential political youth conferences were held in Ōtaki. In both cases, many of those present went on to play important roles in the life and politics of New Zealand.

In 2017/18, a group came together to breathe new life into the political camp tradition, and Ōtaki Summer Camp was born. We hope you’ll join us for the next one!

Final night at the Curious Cove summer university congress run by N.Z.U.S.A in 1971 (Alexander Turnbull Library)
Summer University Congress in 1971 (Alexander Turnbull Library)
Rafting in the Marlborough Sounds at Curious Cove in in 1971 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Ōtaki Summer Camp is 100% volunteer-run, by a range of people who all care about bringing people together to create positive change.

Mary Fisher

Mary is a paralympian who lives in Wellington. She is a member of the Access Alliance, working towards a more accessible and equitable Aotearoa.

Adrian Leason

Adrian is a teacher and peace campaigner based in sunny Ōtaki where he lives on an organic farm.

Hannah Higgison 

Hannah [Ngāti Whātua] is a research assistant and Te Reo Māori teacher who lives in a community house in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara. She cares about social justice and environmental issues. 

Nicky Hager

Nicky is a journalist and the author of a range of books covering politics, intelligence, military and environmental issues.

Hailey Xavier

Hailey is a social and community work student in Ōtepoti. They are passionate about systems change and social justice.

Ollie Neas

Ollie is a journalist and barrister living in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara with an interest in political issues.

Amy Grace Laura

Amy is a creative artist and event manager based in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara with an interest in social justice issues.

Jenny Fisher 

Jenny is a magician when it comes to organisation and admin. She has a special commitment to the well-being of young people.

Jan McPherson

Jan is a local Ōtaki community member, with a particular interest in social justice issues.