Prostitution was decriminalized in New Zealand in 2003 with the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.
The main aims of the legislation were the protection of sex workers from exploitation, the promotion of the health and safety of the workers and the elimination of the prostitution of people under the age of 18.
Under the legislation, operators of brothels must hold a certificate of operation. Advertising of brothels is banned except in the print media. Street prostitution is legal. Soliciting and living off the earning of prostitution were decriminalised. It is illegal for persons on temporary visas (eg student, work, torist) to enage in sex work.
Local governments have the authority to develop by-laws for zoning as to the location of brothels and street prostitution, but cannot prohibit either.
In 2005, the Justice Department published a report entitled The Sex Industry in New Zealand: A Literature Review
In 2008, the Justice Department published its Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act
A report by Melissa Farley in response to the Justice Department report highlights problems with the legislation – that decriminalisation has not improved safety.
Shadow Report for the CEDAW Committee on New Zealand. 2007. This report, just four years after the legisalation was introduced, highlights some of the major problems associated with prostitution in New Zealand.
A collection of newspaper articles that show the problems associated with prostitution in New Zealand
Under Age Prostitution. Despite one of the key aims of the legislation being the elimination of under age prostitution, this remains a major problem. Most of the underage prostitution takes place on the streets, but there have been some prosecutions of brothel managers for employing under age girls in brothels.
Sept 2013 Radio Australia interview with NZ member of parliament who says that legalisation has encouraged street prostitution among Pacific Island girls
April 2013 Call to change the law so that street prositution is illegal. This is seen as the only way of elimainating under age prostitution.
July 2012 A New Plymouth brothelkeeper convicted of employing 15 year old. He loses his appeal in the Supreme Court
June 2010 Auckland’s Dirty Secret – a short You Tube clip on underage street prostitution in Auckland
Community Concerns. There are widespread reports of community concerns regarding street prostitution, location of brothels in residential areas and the proximity of brothels to schools etc. Several towns and cities have sought to place restrictions on the location of brothels.
Illegal Brothels and Workers. Despite the decriminalization of prositution, illegal brothels are still a problem as well as the employment of women on temporary visas.
April 2015 A women is jailed for 27 months for recruiting women from Thailand to work in brothels.
Mar 2013 Christchurch illegal brothel owner fined $8000 for operating a brothel without the required council consent.
Trafficking: New Zealand has been identified as a destination country (mostly of women from Asia) and also a source for trafficking within the country. New Zealand legislation does not recognise the internal trafficking of persons as a crime.
Jun 2014 The US State Department Trafficking in Persons report names New Zealand as a destination country for trafficking in persons as well as a source country for underage sex trafficking of Maori and Pacific island children.
Jun 2012 The US State Department Trafficking in Persons report names New Zealand as both a source and destination country for trafficking in persons
Sept 2011 US State official critisises New Zealand’s definition of trafficking which does not include trafficking within the country