Commune: Chasing a Utopian Dream in Aotearoa
Commune: Chasing a Utopian Dream in Aotearoa
Commune: Chasing a Utopian Dream in Aotearoa

Olive Jones

Commune: Chasing a Utopian Dream in Aotearoa


In 1979, teenager Olive Jones was one of a group of hippies, idealists, and subsistence farmers that set up an alternative community on a farm in the Motueka Valley near Nelson. Influenced by the countercultural movement sweeping the country during the 1970s and 80s, they were part of a widespread interest in communal living, a generation of young people inspired to reject mainstream culture. These experiments in communal living were an attempt to achieve social, sexual and physical liberation from the ‘uptight’ world they grew up in. Commune documents the rise and fall of Olive Jones’ community, Graham Downs. Achieving self-sufficiency was a hugely rewarding experience, using draft horses to carry out old-world methods of farming, building shelters by hand and growing enough food to support a fluctuating population of assorted hippies, nutters, spiritual seekers and dreamers, who all arrived eager to participate in the dream. Ultimately, however, this unstructured community, without rules and membership, failed to fulfil the early vision. Olive Jones’ memoir recalls the dreams, the madness, the humour and hard work of living an alternative lifestyle, a wonderfully insightful and fascinating account of a very influential period in New Zealand’s social history.

Weight .47 kg





230 x 170mm




Olive Jones


September 2023