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National Geographic Photo Camp Series with Air New Zealand Concludes with Virtual Reality Exhibition

The virtual exhibition features nearly 100 images by Photo Camp students and illustrates the theme of the series, TōkuMauri, which means “through the eyes,” by sharing the perspective of youth from across New Zealand.

The National Geographic Society and Air New Zealand recently concluded a series of five National Geographic Photo Camps, which gave 96 young people from across New Zealand the opportunity to learn about photography and tell their stories with mentorship from National Geographic Explorers and photographers. Now, a virtual exhibition created by Air New Zealand expands on the theme of the series, TōkuMauri, which means “through the eyes,” by allowing audiences around the world to see from the perspective of New Zealand youth. It also supports Photo Camp’s mission to amplify the voices of young people by giving them a platform to share their stories and those of their communities, showing them that their stories matter and can make a difference.

“Photo Camp’s mission is to inspire young people to see the power of their own voice, and to encourage them to seek a deeper understanding of one another’s lives as they share their stories and connect with each other,” said National Geographic Explorer and Photo Camp founder Kirsten Elstner. “We’re so thankful that Air New Zealand not only supported us in bringing the program to young people in New Zealand, but also shared our goal of helping us to see the world through their eyes.”

The Photo Camp TōkuMauri series began in 2019 with a Photo Camp in the heart of one of New Zealand’s Māori communities in Murupara in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a long pause in programming, but it also created an opportunity for alumni from 2019 to return as mentors at Photo Camps in Northland and South Auckland in January, and Wellington and Christchurch in April this year.

"I often speak of how life changing that first Photo Camp was for me, the friendships I made, the resources I gained, and the amazing kaiako [teachers] I got to meet," said Jazmin Tainui Mihi, who participated in Photo Camp Murupara in 2019 and returned as a team leader to mentor students at Photo Camp Wellington this year. "Going from student to leader, I now understand what these kaiako [teachers] see and why they do this mahi [work]. Seeing these young people so passionate and proud of the work they were creating and knowing you helped them find a new medium, outlet, passion –– there’s just nothing more rewarding.”

Photo Camp Wellington student Luke Craig Scott-Hill created this image in Wellington city of team leader Jazmin Tainui Mihi relaxing on a park lawn. In a reflection on the experience, he wrote, “Photography can change the way that you look at the world. To be able to capture a story—something that means a lot to someone—is a superpower, and when told for the greater good, it is powerful. I truly believe that we could become powerful photographers.”

Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says the gallery has been created to celebrate the next generation of storytellers.

“Across the Air New Zealand and National Geographic Photo Camps, young New Zealanders explored their world through photography, creating incredible art that showcases Aotearoa [New Zealand] through the eyes of rangatahi [young people]," said Geraghty. "Now, the virtual gallery gives people around the world the opportunity to explore their remarkable visual narratives, and showcases their diverse perspectives and creativity."

Photo Camp students made portraits of community members they met, each other, and their mentors. They also practiced with composition and lighting to capture unique images. From left to right, images made by Photo Camp students Te Kairangi Paki, Tihei Ropata Daniels-Kapea, and Te Kaea Inia Shatēyah Raroa.

The virtual exhibition is open now and includes images from all five Photo Camps supported by Air New Zealand. More photos, videos, and stories by the Photo Camp students can be found @NGPhotoCamp on Instagram.

About Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s story started in 1940, first taking to the skies between Auckland and Sydney on a flying boat - a Short S30. Known for its warm Kiwi hospitality, today, the airline has 98 operating aircraft ranging from Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Airbus A320s to ATRs and Q300s, offering customers comfort in the latest most efficient jets and turboprops. It’s a modern fuel-efficient fleet with an average age of 6.7 years. Air New Zealand’s global network of passenger and cargo services centres around New Zealand. Pre-Covid, the airline flew more than 17 million passengers every year, with 3,400 flights per week. Air New Zealand was named 2022 World's Safest Airline by the Australian rating service, highlighting the airline’s laser-focus on safety and won Best Corporate Reputation in New Zealand in the same year – 8th year in a row.

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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.