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 30 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 30.

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 arrive in time for the Friday night festivities, treat other attendees with respect, IF POSSIBLE STAY TO SHARE IN THE FINAL FAREWELLS ON THE 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)

Our organisers are volunteers who have been involved personally in issues of justice, free speech and the environment.
Their vision is to see Ōtaki Summer Camp become an annual event.

Adrian Leason

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

Nicky Hager

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

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.

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. 

Ollie Neas

Ollie is a journalist and barrister living in Wellington with an interest in political issues.

Hanneke Lewthwaite

Hanneke is a doctor living in Ōtaki, with an interest in health and environment 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.