Naturist meeting draws crowd

By Sonya Bateson

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Finding a place to safely and comfortably socialise without clothes attracted a "crowd" of people to Rotorua Naturally headquarters.

Rotorua Naturally is run by Andrew and Sharlene Valk, a pair of naturists who opened their home to people interested in the naturist lifestyle on Saturday and yesterday.

Mr Valk said the open days were "absolutely brilliant".

"It was good, we had quite a lot of interest, it's gone really well. They're now wanting to help us branch out into other avenues, do other outreaches into the community and get more young people involved."

He said holding the open day this weekend had been great timing as there had been other prominent nudity-related issues. Yesterday in Papamoa, The Edge radio station held a skinny-dipping event to try and break a world record, attracting almost 300 people and on Friday, Tauranga's Andrew Lyall Pointon, 47, was cleared of a charge of offensive behaviour after being spotted running in just a pair of shoes in a forest in August last year.

Mr Valk said attitudes were changing and it wasn't an offence to be unclothed in public places unless that person was being obscene - something Rotorua Naturally was strongly against.

"Being a naturist isn't causing any harm, it's natural. The young people love it, being able to get their kit off and jump in without a care in the world. They get into beach volley ball, kayaking ... "

Next on the agenda for Rotorua Naturally was making themselves known in Australia and doing more group outings. The weekend after Christmas, Mr Valk said Rotorua Naturally would have an outing in Holden's Bay and anybody who was interested could turn up on the day and look out for the yellow naturist signs with a teddy bear image.

"People can just turn up, there will be a few of us down there. From there we will be alternating between Holden's Bay and Blue Lake." He said there had been both beginner naturists and those who had previous experience in naturist circles.

"The response we had from the people was just great, we had a big crowd. There were a couple of new people but there were many people that have in one way or another been involved with different clubs.

"A lot of people have been closing their doors for different reasons, such as having too many men, but we are not a selective group and never will be. We are clothing optional and will remain like that."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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