Otaki Health Camp Is Closing

Otaki children’s health camp showing one of the unique rotundas

The ‘Stand’ organisation says its closing the famous children’s health camp at Otaki.

It says its unique trauma-focused programme at its Children’s Villages at Otaki and Roxburgh.will stop at the end of June. The Kidzacool service for grandparents raising grandchildren will also stop.

380 children a year will miss out 

The closures mean 63 jobs will be lost across both regions and 380 children a year will miss out on the Children’s Village  trauma-focussed treatment programme.

The health camp was set up in Otaki in 1932 and has provided healthy breaks for thousands of children from needy families or institutions. Highly-trained nurses and teachers were always on hand to help children reach their potential.

Children feeding chickens at the Otaki camp

But the organisation will continue to operate its intensive family wraparound services in the central and southern regions

Stand Chief Executive Dr Fiona Inkpen says all children and families currently working with Stand will continue to receive the Intensive Family Wraparound Service.

“I want to reassure our children and families that Stand is not going anywhere. The villages are one aspect of the services we provide, and while it is immensely sad to close these two facilities, our priority remains supporting children and families to be safe, healthy and functioning well.”

Stand is the only residential treatment service of its kind for children aged 5 to 12 who need support to recover from trauma. The Children’s Villages  have combined care with residential and educational services in a safe and protective environment where children can heal and recover.

No funding rise since 2009

Entrance to the Otaki health camp

Dr Inkpen says Stand hasn’t had a funding increase since 2009 and has been meeting operating shortfalls from its own reserves. Financial pressures increased last year following salary increases for the organisation’s staff.

Stand has been topping-up the shortfall in Government funding from its own funds for many years, using prudent financial management and the sale of unused land.

“Unfortunately our reserves are now used up and we have made the difficult decision after consulting with staff and the PSA to close two of our villages. Our hope is this will be a temporary measure and we will be working with Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Education to rebuild services in both regions,” says Dr Inkpen.

For the 2017/18 financial year, Stand and Oranga Tamariki split the operating costs caused by the increase 50/50, however Stand will need $3 million extra, an increase of 18 per cent, to cover the pay rises, compensate for 9 years of inflation, and added costs such as Kiwisaver, to keep the villages open.

Minister for Children Tracey Martin told Stand the Government recognised the value of the organisation and its work, but the funding required could not be secured at this time because of restrictions on the Government budget.



I specifically attended on 26/04/2000 to 02/06/2000 in dorm/bed F3…Thankfully, my dad kept the health camp report, and this was handed to me in my 30’s.

I had good memories, mixed with challenging times for sure, certainly made my teachers and nurses work for their money. I remember helping the chef cook and prepare for the lunches and dinner, always telling my friends what was on the menu for the day. I do wish that many of the connections formed during that time were kept, so that many of the kid who have grown up may have the option of keeping in touch. Nonetheless, I’m sure others had horrendous experiences, I suppose it comes down to who our mentors were and how honest they wanted to be.

I spent 6 weeks at the camp in 1968. I remember, the staff and teacher’s were great. I loved the routine they had. Up and dressed for breakfast, dorm inspection, taught how to make a bed, school, morning tea, lunch. Afternoon rest, back to school, etc. Sports days, obstacle course. The old tram filled with Katipo spiders. The walks to the beach. The dairy reward, jellytip Iceblock. The rotunda. Sunday school. Friday night lollies. Can say not many negatives, except for the spoon full of malt everyday. Lol

Went here in the mid to late 90s,
Hated it with a passion they were drugging me with something can remember the blackmail of no pills no tea, I ended up running away and then getting locked in a small room once they got me, I repeatedly told them I wanted to speak to my parents which they wouldn’t let me make a phone call, they left me in the room til I started getting anxious then a guy came in and just stood and took notes while I slowly lost it because nobody would listen to me then they sent me home. My parents don’t believe I ran away so I think what the camp tells parents and what happens wasn’t quite factual. Fuck this place the picture of that shitty dome building gives me the chills
Fuck this place

This place was a worse hell hole than my violent home,I was there in photos 1958,how sad am I to see me.ceremoniously dumped at the door,seen and not heard,I’m 74 now and it haunts me still

Is there any pages so we could reconnect with the people we spend time with there I was 1998 an meet a lot of cool people I still have all my stuff from there

This a big part of my childhood memories, I went twice around 1997-1998. I specifically remember when princess Diana passed away & we watched it on the news on the little TV we had in the dorm. I also remember an incident where the weather was very warm one night so we had the windows open & the girl sleeping next to me woke in the morning to a beer can on her windowsill which had been placed through her window, the police had to come & investigate.
I also remember going to ‘school’ each day, singing songs in the central area & writing poems in our books everyday. Always playing lots of games with all the kids, I don’t have any negative memories from the camp (but due to trauma my brain blocks out alot of the bad stuff from back then). I would love to see photos from then.

I attended the Otaki Health Camp in 1956. The care was excellent, the experience character building and the time spent enjoyable.

I remember this place fondly as my brother and I went there a few times due to certain trauma around 97-98. Never had an issue with staff or bullies. I do remember there being a girl that, either the first time I was there or the second time, put a hole in the wall next to her bed because she was misbehaving (as in hitting the staff) and was sent to time out. Hopefully they patched the hole

I went to Ōtaki Health Camp when I was 11. I remember that everyone cried in our dorm on the first night because nobody wanted to be there. Everybody cried on the last night because nobody wanted to leave. I have such fond memories, the staff were lovely and so were the other kids. I even enjoyed attending school and felt like the staff always tried to make it special. We all got given a personalised wooden name plate and I still have it. I remember being so excited about it at the time.

Spent alot of time here 47 years ago due to sickness loved it structured occasionally got bullied but over all great family orientated place.

I had such a good time staying here so much fun activites I can not complain about anything. No bullying the staff teachers were amazing. It’s sad reading others comments

I was made to lye on the floor being late from the toilets.Also bullied by older kids,forced to drink saulty water.caus e I was different.

I was beaten by staff members during my time at this camp.. thank God no children will have to experience this horrible concentration camp for kids

My sister and I attended this place..we both have our own nightmare recollections of this hell-on-earth.

i remember the woman in charge was a short round lady, wearing a suit made of tweed or some other course post-war looking fabric…and each time I watch Poltergeist the short medium always makes me think of her.

Having to surrender our clothes only to be made to wear “camp” clothing..was disgusting…ill-fitting, used and plain ugly clothes.

The ‘game’ of tag in the main hall where we had to throw a man’s dress shoe as a means to ‘tag’ someone. Kids having to stand in the halls in front of everyone with their pants down. I had to go hungry because I clinked my spoon on my bowl when eating and this was “totally unacceptable behaviour”.

My sister, myself and a couple of other children would spend our “play” time crying just wanting to get out of the place….

What made this even worse was that our mother has a different recollection, saying we loved it and didn’t want to leave. !!??

I went twice, 2 six week blocks. Including 1 birthday. Between 1993 and 1996 I think. ” at the end of the week if we r good we get a treat something to do and something 2 eat”. Being home sick, cold at night.getting chicken pox. I think the food was OK. The bullying wasn’t.

Our Probus Group Wanganui visited your health camp several years ago on 18th June 2013

The group is keen with a lot of new members to revisit your site and would welcome a time from you to suit.
Some time after July would suit us here.
Please advise.
Treasure Davidson ph 06 347 029 or text only 027 780 4346

Hello there my name is Joy Kuti, and I use to come here, I’m so sorry for the late response, and am wondering if there is chance that this is still available or if the building is still available. Please

I went to Health Camp once in 2011 and twice in 2013. This was honestly so amazing, and I have some great memories from the camp. It is so sad it’s closing down.

Are you looking for onsite security?

My partner and myself live in a bus and would love to live onsite as security to look after the place.

There are plenty of places to park up and we would regularly patrol the property.

If your interested please contact me on contact details below…

I was sent to this camp when i was 6 yrs old, 1964 i have very fond memories of this camp during my stay. Lining up outside for milk, going to school with the classrooms next to each other, making stuff at woodwork, playing games in the rotunda, food issued out in the canteen, beds were very comfortable in the dorms. I remember going for a walk on Sundays with everybody else and lining up outside dairy for an icecream on the way to otaki beach. There was so much to do its very sad this government has the audacity to close it down, ? Shame on you.

what a shame that the Government gives so much funding to other less worthy causes. I was a patient during the 1940s when i had had a bought of child sicknesses. i have very fond memory’s of the camp and the lines of us children trying to dodge the spoon-full of cod liver oil. chasing rabbits in the sand-hills, making kites from newspaper, building booby-traps in the sand. enjoying the classroom activities and even after a prolonged period of not eating tripe and onions, i eventually ate the stuff and asked for more, have loved it ever since. some of the things i recall from this magnificent child oriented health camp, im now just beginning my 80 decade and reckon the camp gave me a fresh start to life. Thank you.


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