Sex for sale in suburbs

By Mike Dinsdale


The Happy House brothel is making parents and business owners unhappy after it moved into a Whangarei house this week without warning.

One neighbour's teenage daughter says she is scared to be home alone because of the establishment's "unsavoury" activities in a converted villa on a Maunu Rd corner site that has hosted a variety of commercial enterprises in recent years. The latest is the brothel, which opened at 70 Maunu Rd on Monday, after moving from 22 Maunu Rd.

Next-door neighbour Kim Stevens is concerned for the safety of her 16-year-old daughter, Lauren, and twin 14-year-old boys Matthew and Sam. Sam's bedroom faces the brothel and he is upset at being kept awake by the "activities" at number 70.

Whangarei District Council group manager district living, Paul Dell, said as number 70 was zoned Business 3, a brothel was a permitted activity as long as it complied with rules for the zone under the Resource Management Act.

However, it could open only between 6am and 10pm and parking issues were not allowed.

Mr Dell said the council believed the brothel had been operating past the 10pm deadline and would be issuing the owner with an abatement notice.

But brothel owner Lindsay McGregor said it was a legal activity. It was not as if workers were engaging in sexual activities on the grass outside the house, he said.

Mr McGregor queried the 6am-to-10pm restriction, as a service station opposite was open 24/7 and was noisier.

Ms Stevens said a red light "open" sign in the villa's window was the first she knew of the brothel.

She did not think the business should be allowed to be so close to homes.

"If I was by myself I wouldn't worry too much, but I've got children and I don't like the idea that there will be people hanging around there at night and it's unsavoury to have it where there are children around," she said.

Lauren, 16, is also uncomfortable.

"There's only a small fence between us. I had no problem when it was further down the road, but not being this close. It's icky and grosses me out."

Sharon Wynyard lives two doors down with 1-year-old son Ezra.

"I'm disgusted about it. There are a lot of kids that walk past here to and from school and it shouldn't be here," she said.

Several nearby business owners also expressed concerns, one complaining to the council.

That business owner, who did not want to be named, said she was told by the home's owner that it would be gone by August and said she would organise a petition and protest action if it was not gone by then.

Marty Mathers owns the building and told the Northern Advocate he learned of the brothel from neighbours.

Mr Mathers said he was told there was going to be a car yard at the site.

He said there was no lease agreement in place and he was getting legal advice as to how he could get the brothel out.

Mr McGregor said people should "get a life" and get over the fact that prostitution was legal.

"It's not Hunters Corner (an Auckland spot infamous for its prostitution problems) and we are keeping people off the streets here," he said.

Mr McGregor said he believed that Mr Mathers had been told what was going to open on the site via the real estate agent who got him the property to rent, and said he had not been informed by his landlord that he had to get out.

"I'm happy to get out, but I want my month's rent back," he said.

- Northern Advocate

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