Feedback on beach nudity 'too hot to handle'

Last updated 22:22 21/09/2008

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Kapiti Coast District Council's e-mail system crashed because it could not handle all the complaints it fielded over its suggestion of allowing nude sunbathing on its beaches.

Councillor Tony Jack said he believed it had been the hottest issue the council had to face for some time. It had generated about five times the discussion sparked earlier this year when a community board member wore a Ku Klux Klan costume to a council meeting.

"There was a big push by naturists in the early stages of the beach bylaw review. Half the women have said `Jeepers', they wished they had bums like the guy on the front page of The Dominion Post - `Where do I get one'?"

The hundreds of e-mails the council received on the topic had crashed its e-mail system.

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said there was a lot of concern in the community and he wanted to stress that the council was not promoting nudity in its draft beach bylaw. Any offensive or lewd behaviour would be dealt with by police. In an effort to allay public concern it has taken out an advertisement in a local newspaper explaining its position.

Mr Dougherty said the bylaw had not been passed. Submissions on it close on October 24.

When the council's regulatory and management committee approved the draft bylaw earlier this month, Mayor Jenny Rowan said she supported the council's stance, saying the beach was a place for the general public, in accordance with the Human Rights Act, unless they were being offensive. She later explained that the draft bylaw was about more than nudity.

The council did not endorse nudity on its beaches without any reservations, she said. "Bylaws against nakedness are vulnerable in that they breach the Bill of Rights Act. Recent case law says that merely being naked does not make a person liable to causing an offence."

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- The Dominion Post

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