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Prostitution in New Zealand

The legislation

Prostitution was decriminalised in New Zealand in 2003 with the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.

There are  three main aims of the  legislation. Firstly, to protect the  workers from exploitation. Secondly, to  promote the health and safety of the workers. Finally, to eliminate the prostitution of people under the age of 18.

Under the legislation, operators of brothels must hold a certificate of operation. Brothels cannot advertse 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, tourist) 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. There has been no further review.

In 2018, feminist scholar and activist Janice Raymond pulished an article critical of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective role in creating the legislation and its subsequent gatekeeping role.

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.