1975 marked the formation of the Free Beach Group (now Free Beaches NZ Inc); an incorporated society
whose members continued to lobby for the establishment of legitimate naturist, or clothes-optional;
beaches. But with the passing of the Summary Offences Act in 1981, it was found to be no longer necessary
to press for designated beaches.
There is no statute in New Zealand law which expressly forbids nudity in a public place.
Relevant sections of the Act are #27 and #4 which outline possible offences of "indecent exposure" and
"offensive behaviour or language in or within view of any public place." Any person accused of these
offences must be proved to have behaved in an "offensive and disorderly manner" or to have "intentionally
and obscenely exposed any part of his/her genitals." A reassuring
by barrister Barry Wilson drawn up for the Free Beach Group confirmed the fact that simple nakedness was
not in itself sufficient grounds for prosecution. Legally, it is important to note that to be offensive
requires intent to offend.
This was confirmed when in the Auckland High Court, 1991, Justice Tomkins agreed with the District Court
Judge that a charge of Indecent Exposure made under section 27 of the Summary Offences Act was inappropriate
for people of naturist beliefs who were naked in a public place (in this case at the beach - "a place where
it was not uncommon for persons to sunbathe in the nude.")
A consequence of these findings was that the police's Ten-One magazine (February 1992) commented
in its Law Notes (page 10), "We are now at the stage where, if we are going to charge a person with
offensive behaviour, there must be evidence to prove deliberate intent to offend."
An item in The Press (April 11 1989) had reported that "The Standards Association is inviting local
bodies to give their views on nude bathing. The Association is said to have conducted a survey in the
December issue of its magazine, inviting readers to comment. 'We had about 20 responses - all in favour
(of the right to choose)' said the magazine's editor." So what happened next, one wonders?
Part of the stated policy of Free Beaches NZ is to liaise with authorities and other organisations to
protect and promote their interests; and in particular to notify authorities of any offensive or undesirable
A yellow flag with a "Fred Bear" logo and the slogan "Bare on the Beach" marks our presence, helps members to identify one another and lets others know that we are part of a recognised organisation.