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Clarification re nudity on Wellington beaches

NEWS RELEASE 30 September 2008

Clarification re nudity on Wellington beaches

Today's Dominion Post story, headed 'Capital's beaches open to nudists', is somewhat misleading. Wellington's beaches aren't 'open to nudists' despite the fact the City Council has removed and replaced an old bylaw relating to the requirement to wear suitable bathing costumes on beaches and other public places in the city.

Under the Local Government Act 2001, Wellington City Council, along with all other local authorities, is required to review and update its bylaws - especially if they contain complicated wording that's difficult to understand, or if they no longer are relevant.

Earlier this year the Council reviewed a number of bylaws - including the old Harbour, Beaches and Foreshore Bylaw - which, in part, required all persons over 8 years of age who were on, or swam at, a beach to wear a swimsuit or clothes. The wording of the old bylaw was 'clunky' and not really suitable for the 21st century.

The review was a fully public process and included extensive public consultation in April - and then submissions to Council meetings before the final decision on the bylaws was made in June.

Admittedly a review of bylaws is not something that usually excites the community greatly - but we received no submissions relating to beach nudity.

The removal of the old bylaw does not mean that people can freely remove all their clothes on any city beach.

If someone removes all their clothes on Oriental Bay beach, for example, and then offends other beach users, the Police could be called and could require the person to put their clothes back on. The Summary Offences Act can be used by the Police to enforce this.

Nudity is really not an issue on beaches in Wellington City - and we're not expecting a sudden rampant increase in nudity as a result of the withdrawal of the bylaw. Generally, for example, people do not go fully nude on Oriental Bay beach.

It is quite well known that the isolated north-eastern end of Breaker Bay Beach, on the South Coast, is Wellington's 'unofficial' nude beach. Because it takes a long and arduous walk through soft sand to get to the beach, relatively few people go there and so people generally are free to sunbathe nude without causing trouble.


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