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Set up in September 2009, Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust aims to allow more people to attend more retreats and workshops in New Zealand offered by highly-regarded secular insight meditation teachers, more often and more affordably.

Until that point, the cost of bringing teachers from overseas and effectively publicising their retreats and workshops were both significant barriers.

In conversation, a question arose: what if there was a way of collecting funds

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in advance for the teachers’ air fares, covering the whole fare by donations rather than this being a major component of the expense of each retreat?

Enter Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust…

Every dollar of your donation for a teacher that the Trust receives will be used to bring that teacher to Aotearoa New Zealand and support the retreats they offer.

If the amount raised for a teacher more than meets their travel costs, what you have given will reduce the retreat cost even further for everyone attending these retreats, making them even more affordable.

And if you appreciate the work the Trust is doing and want to support more than just the one teacher, you can donate to our general fund. This fund will be managed carefully to support as many teachers and retreats as possible as well as being used to cover the costs of running the trust.


Dedicated to making the teachings of Gotama, the Buddha, more accessible to more people in Aotearoa New Zealand, the trustees are:

Alex Carr

Alex Carr

is currently the chair of the Board of Trustees.

Julia Wells

Julia Wells

graduated with an M.A. in the field of medical history and a BSc in chemistry from Victoria University of Wellington in 2016. Following graduation, she worked as a freelance feature writer, then as the marketing coordinator at Bridget Williams Books, a publisher specialising in history and contemporary issues books. She now at the Department of Conservation.

Outside of work, Julia volunteers for several organisations, including Animal Evac NZ, SAFE and Little Sprouts. She was president of the Wellington Speaking Union for two years and has volunteered with the union for a number of years. She is a keen tramper, animal lover and book enthusiast.

Julia is the author of a number of academic articles on tropical medical history and colonial African history, as well as magazine articles, columns and blog posts.


Pete Cowley

who, while he has only been practicing meditation since 2012, finds it very beneficial and appreciates it is a lifelong practice. Back home in Gisborne after several decades away, Pete is interested in where the spiritual meets secular society and enjoys being engaged with organisations which cover the spiritual and social justice areas of society.

Damon Vassiliadis

Damon Vassiliadias

began meditation practice began early 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand under the guidance of Ramsey Margolis.

Started off with an open awareness approach accompanied by journaling.

Moved towards more mindfulness techniques. I mainly practice mindfulness of breath and body sensations.

More recently I’ve been enjoying loving kindness meditation which involves cultivating self-compassion.

Rajees headshot

Rajees Patel

Rajees has been a regular meditator since 2014 after spending 3 days on retreat at a Buddhist Monastery.

He finds the use of mindfulness techniques a great way to balance his busy work life as an IT professional.

Rajees likes keeping active and can often be found playing squash at his local squash club or walking around the hills of Wellington.

Trustees serve as volunteers. We welcome your feedback as to how the work of the trust can be improved.


If Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust were to receive a significant donation, here are just some of the possibilities:

  • halve the cost at one retreat for all attendees
  • pay for two retreats for a small number of retreatants away from the main centres
  • underwrite a month long retreat for perhaps 10 people
  • develop partnerships with more local groups and national organisations
  • help the process of teacher development, bringing more teachers from Australia, Europe and the USA for this purpose
  • support the development of meditation apps, both in English and te reo Maori
  • buy land and develop a purpose-built retreat centre

We encourage you to consider how secular insight meditation communities might develop in this country, and what you could do to make those dreams come true. Do please talk with the trustees if you have something in mind, in particular if you would like to leave a bequest in your will.