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The National Geographic Society and Air New Zealand Partner to Host Five National Geographic Photo Camps throughout New Zealand

The five Photo Camps will connect New Zealand youth with National Geographic Explorers and photographers who will provide the students with a meaningful introduction to photography. The theme of this series is TōkuMauri, which means "through the eyes."

The National Geographic Society partnered with Air New Zealand to host a series of National Geographic Photo Camps, which will provide a meaningful introduction to photography and storytelling for young people throughout New Zealand.

The Air New Zealand-sponsored Photo Camps will be held in Northland and South Auckland in January, and Wellington and Christchurch in April. Another was previously held in the heart of one of New Zealand’s Māori communities in Murupara in 2019––before the COVID-19 pandemic caused indefinite delays to the rest of the series.

Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says the purpose of Air New Zealand’s collaboration with National Geographic in providing these camps is to give Kiwi youth a voice and inspire the next generation of storytellers. “We’re really excited to restart these Photo Camps with National Geographic and offer rangatahi (young people) the opportunity to learn photography skills to tell the stories that are important to them. It’s a privilege to provide support to the next generation of budding photographers and help them find their voices.”

Photo Camp’s mission is to amplify the voices of young people by giving them a platform to share their stories and those of their communities, and showing them that their stories matter and can make a difference. Students will receive instruction and guidance from National Geographic Explorers––including Photo Camp founder Kirsten Elstner and multidisciplinary storyteller Erika Larsen––and other photographers who will help them build their skills, build their confidence, and develop deep connections with each other through workshops and field assignments in their communities.

At the end of each 5-day Photo Camp, students reflect on their experience and share their stories with their families, peers, and communities as part of a final showcase. Here are a few photos taken by students who participated in the 2019 Photo Camp in Murupara, which invited them to reflect on their identities and pride in their Māori heritage:

Photo credit: Te Aho Jordan, Photo Camp Student

“I am Māori first and foremost; I will not always remain a young person. My culture will always be a part of me. . . . My days are spent fighting with my tongue, jumping between the language of my ancestors and that of the people who tried to extinguish the very existence of my noble language. . . . I scroll social media, I take selfies, I write my Instagram bio in my reo [language]. I sometimes use Māori words to express my emotions when English fails to do so. I carry on the fight for our reo, and that includes the battle within myself. I wear my taonga with my Nikes. I take my shoes off before entering my friends’ houses, although they reassure me, “it’s OK.” I cringe at incorrect pronunciations of my name. I shorten it to make it palatable to a foreign tongue.” — Te Aho Jordan, Photo Camp student

Photo credit: Jazmin Paget-Knebel, Photo Camp student

“One thing that I would tell the world about our community is that it is strong. Our community is like a treasure. We all treat each other like family; we take care of one another. Every individual has their own story to tell, their own tikanga [way], but together we all share the same aroha [love]. Our community of Te Whanau-a-Apanui is like a big whanau [family] where we’re all related, whether it be by blood or by heart.” — Aliah Semmens, Photo Camp student

“My hope for the future is a cleaner environment. This is my hope not only for my family and community, but for the world. As a Māori woman, I feel a strong connection with the land and water. Māori people have relied on the land to provide kai [food] and medicine for their families for centuries. It’s disappointing to see people disregard the importance of keeping our land and water clean. It’s devastating for me to know that our future rangatahi [youth] will not have the privilege of gathering kai and medicine from our land.” — Anastasia Huiarangi, Photo Camp student

Photo credit: Taleq Simeon, Photo Camp student

“I grew up with heaps of discipline. I went to a military academy, and that’s what changed me. I became a better person. I was living with cadets from around the world, and I learned about other cultures. I taught them about Māori culture. I feel proud of where I’m from and who I am. My [biological] family is gang-related, and my new family adopted me because they wanted me to have a better life. Now I call them Dad and Mum. I’m so glad they grabbed me. I think about it every day, what my life could have been like. I’m so grateful to be their son. Now I’m surrounded by love.” — Pita Rurehe, Photo Camp student

Photo credit: Shonita Wikaire, Photo Camp student 

Follow @NGPhotoCamp on Instagram to see more by Photo Camp students and alumni.

This press release was originally published on November 12, 2019 and has been updated to reflect the dates and locations of the 2023 Photo Camps with Air New Zealand.

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About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.