Our History

The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective has been advocating for sex workers for nearly 30 years.

Learn here about key moments in our history.

1987

Sex workers on the move

In 1987, a group of “masseuses” working out of massage parlours and houses, joined forces with street workers, to form the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Says a founding member: “We met on beaches, sat round pub tables, huddled in doorways, and spoke on the telephone to unseen, like minded, sex workers throughout the country. Sex workers were on the move. People started to talk about us as if we were a force to be reckoned with. This is really when we realised we were becoming an organisation.

1988

Our fight against HIV and AIDS

The Ministry of Health contracted NZPC to provide a range of services to sex workers, focused on HIV/AIDS prevention. Over the next decade, five community bases opened throughout the country, where sex workers obtain information, support services, and network with each other. Free sexual health clinics for sex workers were established in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

1991

Working towards reform

In 1991, police were raiding massage parlours and arresting sex workers on the street. They used condoms for evidence to convict sex workers of prostitution-related offences. NZPC told the Ministry of Health that we would be unable to continue providing services funded by them, unless an interdepartmental committee was established to examine the conflict between government agencies.

1994

Sold on Safe Sex

In 1994, NZPC produced the groundbreaking instructional video, Sold on Safe Sex, which promotes safer sex practices, using real-world scenarios. It is the first publication in New Zealand to receive an R18 certificate from the Office of Film and Literature Classification. We also contributed to A Double Standard, which screened to a large audience on TV3. The documentary was many New Zealanders’ first exposure to the argument for reform, opening up the conversation to the wider public. A Double Standard can be watched online, at NZ Onscreen.

2000 – 2003

The Prostitution Law Reform Act is passed

NZPC was the driving force behind MP Tim Barnett’s bill to decriminalise sex work. We set the Prostitution Refrm Act’s aims and built support for it as it made its way through parliament between 2000 and 2003. We have produced a video, The Decriminalisation of Sex Work in New Zealand, which explains how this landmark legislation was achieved. It can be viewed on this site.

2003 onwards

A new era for sex workers

Since decriminalisation, sex work has been recognised as an occupation. Sex workers now can now talk more openly about their experiences, without fear of arrest. As a result, sex workers can access NZPC more easily.

2003 – 2005

Reviewing the law

NZPC assisted with the Christchurch School of Medicine at Otago University, the Crime and Justice Research Centre at Victoria University, and the Prostitution Law Review Committee in providing information that was used to review the Prostitution Reform Act. NZPC organised a conference at which the Prostitution Law Review Committee’s report was presented. The Committee found that the Prostitution Reform Act had benefited sex workers

2013

Studying migrant sex work

In 2013, we released a study into migrant sex workers completed by Kaitiaki Research. The study of 124 migrant sex workers found “that there were some vulnerabilities affecting migrant sex workers, both legislative and unique. There were also some concerns raised about some management practices in some brothels, though there was little evidence of trafficking indicators.” The study can be downloaded here

2016

Setting best practice

In 2016, NZPC launched our All Business Code of Conduct, to encourage businesses in the New Zealand sex industry, uphold the rights of workers.

You can read more about the Code in the Business Matters section of this website