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Prostitution in New Zealand , brothel-keeping, living off the proceeds of someone else's prostitution, and street solicitation are legal in New Zealand and have been since the Prostitution Reform Act came into effect.
Coercion of sex workers is illegal. Until , indoor prostitution in New Zealand was governed by the Massage Parlours Act , which allowed brothels to operate in the guise of massage parlours. However, the act defined massage parlours as public places, so laws against soliciting in a public place applied to workers in parlours, and they were sometimes raided by police posing as clients. Advertising the sale of sex "soliciting" , running a brothel, and living off the earnings of prostitution were illegal.
Despite the Massage Parlours Act and other laws meant to suppress prostitution, there was considerable toleration of sex work in practice in the last decades of the 20th century. These laws were all changed by the Prostitution Reform Act in June The Bay of Islands and in particular the town of Kororareka was notorious for this and brothels proliferated.
In some cases, the sex may have been part of a wider partnership between a tribe and a ship's crew, akin to a temporary marriage alliance. The amount of choice women had about their participation seems to have varied. Throughout this period there was a severe gender imbalance in the settler population and women were in short supply.
In the nineteenth century, prostitution was generally referred to as the "Social Evil". New Zealand was also amongst those dependencies that British authorities pressured into passing Contagious Diseases Acts ; New Zealand's was in force from The gendered rationale and practice of venereal disease policy formed a focus for early feminist activism.