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An Interview about the New Zealand Naturist Federation


As part of ANW's want to enhance understanding and appreciation of naturism we are sharing a selection of articles and interviews with ANW members exploring naturism around the world. ANW believes in safeguarding naturism with a genuine, healthy and respectful approach to social nudity and in doing so has an ever growing membership of friendly and appropriate users.

We also believe that naturism unites us and connects us. Beyond national boundaries, age, gender, religion sexual orientation and culture. These articles aim to show our connect through our mutual respect and understanding of social nudity. Inspiring people to get involved with naturism and the various naturist opportunities the world has to offer. 


We welcome Murray the social media coordinator of the NZNF - New Zealand Naturist Federation and their representative on ANW who kindly tells us more about the NZNF. 

What year did NZNF first come into existence?
The first gathering (that is known) of naturists in NZ was way back in 1933.  Various other clubs were formed after that and at a sports rally in 1957 at what is now the Pineglades Naturist Club, the first formal meeting was held of what was to become the New Zealand Sunbathing Association.  Of course, this is now the New Zealand Naturist Federation.

How many members do you currently have?   
The number fluctuates of course, and not every club member is on our national naturist database. I believe we currently have about 1,500 naturists listed.  There would be 1000’s more of course that do not belong to a club, and they are not officially counted.


Was there a peak year and how many were there then?
From what I hear, the mid 70’s would have been when clubs had the most members. We did not keep records back then, or none that I know of.  I remember being told that if you were not at my club (Wellington Naturist Club) by 9.30 in the morning, you would not find space on the main lawn.  Of course, back then, everyone’s lives were totally different whereas today, there is just so much to do, and I think people have difficulty finding time for the things that they want to do.  Club life does take up a big chunk of your spare time.  Probably why the average age of club members these days is way higher than back in the 70’s.

One of the early rallies, Whanganui, 1960


What is the male/female ratio of members and how about families?
Most clubs (from what I know) try and maintain a 60/40 ratio male to female. I totally understand how a female may feel uncomfortable arriving at the club mid-week and find only males there.  Again, in the 70’s or even later, we had many families but right now, my club only has the one family with the one child.  I have been talking to an Auckland club member with young children and she is looking at organising getting families together for togetherness, encouraging families to join clubs, and will be working on this going forward.  If you look at that 1990 video I shared, you will see lots of kids participating at the various clubs or festivals, unfortunately, that does not happen now.  At our last festival, I don’t know the exact number, but I think the youth could be counted on one hand.


What are the basic jobs performed by the NZNF? 
A common question is “what does the NZNF do for us (the clubs)”.   A lot of stuff actually, and a lot the clubs do not see.  A couple of roles are active on a regular basis though. We have the Digital Platforms Coordinator (was me, not now), who looks after our gonatural website and would normally make posts on a regular basis.  There is me, the Social Media Coordinator a role I now fill, but have always been the administrator of the social media platforms.   I try and post something meaningful on each platform on a regular basis and post different type topics on each.  What I post on ANW is the sort of stuff I would have posted on the gonatural site.  There are two VP’s, one for the south island and one for the north.  They are the normal conduit for the clubs and these two people often travel around to visit the clubs, attend AGMs, hand out significant certificates, that sort of stuff.  If a club is having difficulties, they may often talk to the VP.  The database officer keeps the database up to date, issues our NZNF membership card, quite a busy job and one that I did for a while.  The treasurer looks after the money of course.  I know that myself personally, I spend hours doing what I do.  I also assist our secretary with templates, minutes, that sort of stuff. I am the webmaster for two clubs and assist another club on occasion. I assist anyone that has a gonatural domain-based email address in setting up their accounts.  Our Marketing Officer is the face of the movement and fronts up to the media for interviews, tv interviews etc.      


Are there any nationwide events organised - or are they all based in local clubs?
The NUDVAN are a non-landed group and they organise their own rallies around the country, but mainly for their own members.  We have the annual (not necessarily annual anymore) festival where all the clubs meet and play sports, socialise etc.  We also have the World Naked Bike Ride that is an organised event, not by the NZNF.  So, no, not really.  


How many clubs/venues are under its umbrella? 
Looking at our nudesletter, there are some 33 clubs or organisations listed.  However, some of these are not active or closed due to Covid.  The gonatural website does have a list.


What is the NZNF connection with beaches in New Zealand? 
The Free Beach Group which has sub-groups around the country is affiliated to the NZNF.  There was also a Supporters group under the NZNF which was later changed to the NZ Naturists, still under the NZNF.  That group has now been absorbed into the FBG and looked after by the FBG President.


A brief summary of the laws supporting naturism in New Zealand.
Basically, it is not illegal to go naked in NZ, anywhere.  However, people do complain and the first thing the police do is to ask you to move along and if not, you could be arrested for “breaching the peace”.  One ex-NZNF member was charged for riding his bicycle on a public road in the nude. This went to court, and he was found guilty.  However, on appeal, he was cleared.  Another case is still before the courts I believe, basically a guy walking across the road at a beach from his house to go for a swim.  A secluded beach apparently.  

Tractor rides at (now) Pineglades Naturist Club (40+ years ago)


How does the average New Zealander view Naturism?
My experience has always been acceptance – I have never had someone disapprove of me when I say I am a naturist.  I have been interviewed by the media several times as have others even recently.  Normally the article is accepting of naturism but you often get snide comments by the interviewer or reporter.  One reporter recently visited Pineglades for the annual volleyball match between the club and the local volunteer fire brigade.  The article she wrote was excellent, the best I have read.   She told me that she was going back to the club with her partner for another social event a little while later.


What about the future of naturism in New Zealand? 
When the gonatural brand was launched in 2005,  one of the objectives was to grow the number of naturists in NZ by a significant number.  However, that did not actually happen.  All club’s membership numbers go up and down and today, the membership of my own club is around the same number as when I was the membership officer 20+ years ago.  

Murray would like to share this article that captures some of the spirit and history of naturism in New Zealand

A brief history of rallies (now called Festivals)

By Les Olsen - Life member of the New Zealand Naturist Federation

In the early days before clubs were organised, Perc Cousins of Wellington began correspondence with overseas naturists and eventually established contact with several enthusiasts here in New Zealand who had a similar interest in nude sunbathing.

This contact came about through the magazine Health and Efficiency which in those early days was principally a physical culture type magazine with a few nude photos added for interest’s sake.  Through this magazine, Perc would send in reports about New Zealand with a view to encourage local people to contact him. Soon he was corresponding with people all over the country who were trying to get others; mainly friends and acquaintances; to join in nude sunbathing either at the beach or a local stream. Through these contacts which started around 1938-39, Perc was very keen to offer advice to many of those who wanted to establish small clubs throughout the country. Principally near major towns.

An early attempt at starting a club in Dunedin around 1933 by Eric Flint ended in failure after about a year in which he endured the ridicule of the local Woman’s Welfare League and others. Eric having moved to Auckland around 1935 established a small group on his property at Oratia and continued with around sixty or so members until the outbreak of war in 1939.  The next recorded attempt to establish a formal club occurred in 1948 with the start of the Auckland Outdoor Health Club which met on the property of Bert and Helen Brittain at Oratia in West Auckland. This was soon followed by the Wellington Sun Club as it was then known, which formalised in December of 1950. Wanganui Sun Club followed soon after taking a leaf out of Wellington’s book and started in early 1951.

Recognising that there was a growing population of naturists, Perc realised that there was an opportunity for some sort of gathering where many adherents would be able to come together and enjoy each other’s company is some secluded spot. Perc had become great friends with Ivan and Nora Mowlem who lived at that time in Wanganui and who infrequently joined with Perc and his family at their secluded property at Stokes Valley in Upper Hutt. Ivan suggested that there could be an ideal spot for a naturist gathering at his secluded home on the outskirts of Wanganui township where he had ample lawn space for camping and a small concrete swimming pool. Plans were made for this gathering to be held at the end of January 1953 and several people from around the country were invited to attend. As the forerunner of naturist gatherings, it was deemed a success and plans were then put in place for a national gathering each year to follow. Thus, rallies were established and held in Wanganui in 1953, 54, 56 and 1957. The 1955 rally was jointly organised in Auckland at the property of Bert and Helen Brittain and the nearby property known as Kaurimu Club owned by Eric Flint. This was the first naturist gathering to which the press was invited and, on this occasion, the best report on the rally was received from Truth newspaper after many years having ridiculed the establishment of nude sunbathing.

The early rallies were mainly social occasions with swimming when a pool was available and the occasional game of Tennikoits being played, and this developed into the first formal sports event played at such gatherings. Volleyball, Miniten, Swimming, Bowls and Petanque followed in later years.

At the rally held at Canterbury in 1957, the first formal meeting of what was to become the New Zealand Sunbathing Association was held. Thereafter an annual general meeting was held, and a formal activities programme devised to add to the social activities. These early gatherings were held over a three-day long weekend in most cases and were only held in Auckland, Wellington, or Canterbury until 1977 as these were the only clubs that had suitable facilities available at that time. A change occurred when the next rally was held at Tolaga Bay on the farm owned by Ian and Jennifer Fairbrother. Another rally of interest was held in South Taranaki on the former Lowgarth dairy factory during the New Year of 1980. Gradually more days were added to the rallies to give attending families a longer holiday break and being held over the New Year holiday period was deemed to be the most suitable time.  The lakeside rallies at Rotota were also very popular. These rallies held away from the traditional club sites added another dimension to the rally going experience of those attending and proved to be very popular in their diversity.

Rallies have continued on an annual basis since these early days with a variety of themes and sporting activities for the enjoyment of many people throughout the years. Participation in the rallies is a great time for families to spend time together and for club members from throughout the country to participate in what has become a major calendar event for naturists here in New Zealand.

Through this interaction of club members, many have formed lifelong friendships and become aware that being a member of a club has provided an opportunity to join in naturist activities worldwide. The opportunity to visit other clubs throughout the country and overseas is one of the great virtues of membership and knowing that there are people with similar attitudes to nude recreation as oneself, this enhances the value that can be placed on ones’ membership of a naturist club.

Les Olsen

(Les is an honorary Life Member of the New Zealand Naturist Federation & Auckland Outdoor Naturist Club.  Les has been involved with naturism for a very long time and only recently gave up the role as the NZNF Archivist.)

ANW thank Murray for sharing aspects of the NZNF with ANW. 

Murray is actively sharing aspects of New Zealand and Naturism within ANW and would be happy to answer any questions you have about the NZNF, travel and naturism in New Zealand.

ANW welcomes all who are respectful and interested in naturism and invite all genuine naturist organisations, clubs, events, venues and other opportunities to be part of the ANW community and work with us to encourage the growth and acceptance of naturism around the world. If you have any questions email Anna and Steve at [email protected]

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