Normalising nudity

SOPHIE PREECE
Last updated 12:58 19/10/2011
Hannam
BEN CURRAN

Naked ambition: Kay Hannam, of Wai-natur Naturist Park, is entered in this year's Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.

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Exposing her books to the scrutiny of strangers is a harder task for Kay Hannam than exposing her body.

But the owner of Wai-natur Valley Naturist Park hopes that by baring her business she'll encourage others to bare their skin.

"The more recognition we can gain the better. So some of those one-in-four people who are comfortable about nudity might be more willing to get out there."

The Wairau Valley naturist park is one of eight business entered in the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards, which reward innovation, among other categories.

"We feel we are quite innovative," said Ms Hannam. "We provide a place where people can relax in the nude and obtain a great deal of respect for themselves and each other. It's very empowering for people."

She says a nationwide survey showed 25 per cent of New Zealanders were comfortable with their own and other people's nudity. "It's just about convincing them to take that first step."

Ms Hannam and partner Brian Williams set up their first naturist business in 1997, renting a property at Lake Tekapo and running a home stay and annual Mackenzie Muster Naturist Festival. "It just grew. It was like holding a tiger by the tale."

She says the festival was a good way of introducing the general public to naturism.

"I really wanted to broaden people's minds a little bit and make nude recreation a more acceptable lifestyle choice ... I'm very proud of being a naturist and like to tell other people about it."

A 2006 move to the Wairau Valley, where she and Mr Williams could own and develop their own property, required sacrifices, not least of which was giving up the repeat custom that had made up half their bookings.

Rebuilding that client base while developing the five-acre site into a bed and breakfast and camping ground, with amenity blocks, recreation room, swimming pool and spa, has been hard work, but the result is a lifestyle the couple love and a developing business focus for Ms Hannam.

"We started it as a hobby, but it is now a worthwhile business that I think is worth carrying on. This awards appraisal has made me focus on that. It's made me look at things a lot more clinically."

They have started events like Nudie Foodies Sounds Adventure, an annual get-together where a charter boat ride is followed by dinner in the garden and a golf tournament the following day.

For Ms Hannam the decision to do all of that nude is a simple one. "My attitude is that I sleep in the nude and when I get up in the nude I shower in the nude, and if it's a really nice day I think why would I put on clothes?"

She wishes more people could see it that way. "I think that's what I'm out there to do. Normalise it."

The winners of the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards will be announced at the Gala Dinner on November 18

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- The Marlborough Express

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