South Taranaki brothel hosts open day to fund school lunch programme

PETRA FINER/stuff.co.nz

Shh... The Adult Fun Spot owner/operator Nicky Hughes and Kai Kitchen Hawera founder Rochelle Steer talk about their connection.

A brothel is holding an open day to raise money for a charity that feeds hungry children. 

Nicky Hughes, owner of Hawera's "Shh... Adult Fun Spot" brothel in South Taranaki, is touting the March 12 open day as a two-pronged effort to break down barriers between the community and the sex industry, while raising funds for Hawera's Kai Kitchen charity

Hughes is a committee member of the charity that provides more than 40 lunches every day for school children in South Taranaki. 

Shh... The Adult Fun Spot, Union Street and High Street Hawera.
PETRA FINER

Shh... The Adult Fun Spot, Union Street and High Street Hawera.

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"[It's an] awesome cause, feeds our children, no discrimination, no judgment and the kids are able to have a lunch," she said.

"This industry gets a bit of bad rap and we want to open up to the public to show what it is we really do.

Kai Kitchen Hawera founder Rochelle Steer and Shh... owner/operator Nicky Hughes.
PETRA FINER

Kai Kitchen Hawera founder Rochelle Steer and Shh... owner/operator Nicky Hughes.

"The industry is not what it's made out to be on TV really, it's about education. We want to educate people about what we do and why."

Hughes didn't know how many people she could expect at the R18 event, but said she would have three of her staff members on site to lead tours and answer questions about their jobs.

She employed four permanent staff, and three others who chose their own hours, Hughes said. 

Kai Kitchen founder Rochelle Steer, who is a friend of Hughes, said it was possible, if not probable, there would be people who disapproved of the partnership between the brothel and the charity. 

"This is how I look at it. I'm really open-minded and the work we do, we don't judge people.

"If somebody needs help we just help them and in return I would expect people to do the same for us." 

Working in a brothel did not make these people any less a part of the community or any less in need of a job and money to provide for their own families, Steer said. 

Steer, who was nominated for Taranaki Daily News 2015 Person of the Year, for establishing the Koha Shed, of which Kai Kitchen is an offshoot, said the open day idea was a winner because "people are nosy".

"They want to know what goes on here, I wanted to know that's why I came up here and had a look," she said.

"If I'm as nosy as half the people in town, they'll want to have a look too."

And as for people's disapproval, Steer said she had a plan of attack for dealing with it. 

"I'm just going to ignore it," she said. 

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective national coordinator Catherine Healy commended Hughes on her decision, which she saw as an act of bravery. 

"I take my hat off to people who are courageous enough to put a face to sex work, because it comes at a severe cost." 

Sex workers continued to face discrimination by the community and other employers and opening the brothel doors to allow people to understand the occupation better was a good thing, Healy said. 

"Sex workers have bigger lives than just simply being sex workers. They're active members of other parts of the community." 

South Taranaki District Mayor Ross Dunlop said while he was unable to attend the open day he wished Hughes and Steer well in their endeavour. 

"Like any legitimate business in South Taranaki I wish them well. 

"And good on them for supporting a good cause," he said. 

 - Stuff

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