Brothels Bylaw Review

Brothels bylaw image of main street background

Every five or ten years we are required to review our bylaws, and the current Brothels Bylaw will lapse and automatically be revoked on 8 April 2021.

Since 2003, sex work has been a legal occupation in New Zealand under the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA), subject to the same laws that regulate other businesses and workers, but with some additional requirements aimed at protecting sex workers and their clients (see sections 7 to 23 of the PRA).

There are provisions under the PRA so that councils may either manage a brothel’s application for a resource consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) using the councils’ District Plan (section 15 of the PRA), or adopt a bylaw to manage a brothel’s signs (section 12 of the PRA) and/or manage the location of brothels (section 14 of the PRA).


Options considered

In mid-2020, we began consulting with various stakeholders as part of the current bylaw review.  This included the NZ Police, Ministry of Justice, Regional Public Health, Council compliance staff, the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, and the organisations identified in the bylaw as being sensitive sites e.g. schools and churches.

We looked at the approaches taken by other councils, and found that 81% of them manage brothels using their District Plans under the RMA, and 19% have a brothels bylaw in place, including Upper Hutt.

As part of the review we also found that our current bylaw was vulnerable to being legally challenged.  It may be perceived that the bylaw does not satisfy the requirements under Section 155 of the Local Government Act 2002, is Ultra vires, is unreasonable and restrictive restraint of trade, and does not support the purpose of the PRA - which is to create a framework that safeguards the human rights of sex workers, and promotes their welfare and occupational safety.


What do we want to achieve?

 Our overall goal is to:

  • Regulate the establishment and operation of brothels and their associated signage, in order to minimise community harm or offence, while not endorsing or morally sanctioning prostitution or its use.
  • Allow the operation of responsible and legitimate brothels which support the key purpose of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA) which is to promote the rights, safety and well-being of sex workers and their clients.


Proposal to manage brothels through existing District Plan

At a Council meeting on 4 November 2020, Council agreed, that for the purpose of this consultation, it proposes that we would manage brothels through the existing District Plan, and revoke the bylaw.

The District Plan includes criteria for permitted and discretionary activities which depend on the specific zones requirements (i.e. residential or rural zone, and a business activity in a business zone).

These requirements set criteria for signage, and the management of the environmental impacts associated with business activities, such as noise, hours of operation, traffic flow and parking,

We are now consulting on this proposal. 


How can I share my views?

We want your opinion on the proposal.  Here’s how you can make a submission:


Step 1 – Read the supporting documents

To give you more detail and background on the options proposed, please read the following documents:

(Printed copies are also available at Council reception, Upper Hutt Libraries, H₂O Xtream Aquatic Centre or Expressions Arts Centre)

  • Statement of proposal(PDF, 14MB) - explains the background and issues identified, along with possible approaches to address this. 
  • Factsheet(PDF, 6MB) - gives a brief background to the bylaw, overview of the legal requirements, and some of the key issues identified.


Step 2 - Make a submission

You can either:

  • Complete an online submission below, or
  • Download and print the PDF version of the submission form(PDF, 1MB), and email it to, or
  • Complete a pre-printed submission form available at Council reception, Upper Hutt Libraries, H₂O Xtream Aquatic Centre or Expressions Arts Centre, and either drop it off at one of these, or Freepost it to Upper Hutt City Council, Private Bag 907, Upper Hutt, 5140.

Optional: If you would like your name and contact details to be withheld from the public submissions documents, please indicate so in your submission.

Submissions close on 11 January 2021.


Step 3 (Optional) – Speak with us

  • If you make a submission, you will also have the opportunity to speak to that submission with Councillors in-person at a dedicated Brothels Bylaw hearing meeting on the morning of 4 February 2021..
  • If you would like to do this, please let us know on your submission form and we will send you details of this closer to the time.


What happens next?

  • Consultation                 11 November 2020 to 11 January 2021
  • Hearing meeting            4 February 2021
  • Council deliberations   17 February 2021
  • Council decision            3 March 2021


Download a copy of the consultation documents


Ask us a question?

Email us at:

Call us (04) 527 2169 


Click here to view form.