The Rotorua Chamber of Commerce has apologised after naming its new women's business club The Bikini Club - admitting it got it wrong.

The Chamber announced on Monday it was reinventing its Women in Business sessions, and revealed the new name and logo.

However, after receiving complaints Chamber chief executive Darrin Walsh yesterday issued an apology to members, saying the Chamber never intended the name to be demeaning and apologised to those who had taken offence.

He also offered to review the name for the group and encouraged people to share their suggestions.


Former Chamber president Dr Margriet Theron told the Rotorua Daily Post she was in disbelief when she heard the name.

Dr Theron said when women belonged to such an organisation they wanted to list it on their CV, but questioned who would want to put they were a member of "The Bikini Club" beside their name.

"It just undermines any credibility."

The first event for the group, to be held on April 20, is an "interactive presentation on aromatherapy".

Dr Theron said the Chamber should focus on events that looked at opportunities for women with the proposed polytechnic merger, or featured women standing in the local government elections - not aromatherapy evenings.

Mr Walsh said he had only received two complaints.

He did not come up with the name but said he personally did not have a problem with it.

He said other Chamber organisations around the country had names for women's groups such as "Wonder Women" which he thought was more demeaning.

Mr Walsh said the Women in Business series had struggled with poor attendance and had difficulty finding a sponsor.

"What we wanted to come up with was something that was fun and vibrant."

Feedback from members was that they wanted it to be more modern, with a mix of activities and not just speaker sessions.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said while she wasn't offended by the name, she didn't believe it was appropriate.

"I like them (the Chamber) reconnecting with women, but the name is rather unfortunate. They could up the game a bit on the name."

She said women in business were a different paradigm now, and were running big organisations.

She said the organisers were probably trying to have a bit of fun, but men's business groups weren't given derogatory names.

Minister for Women Louise Upston said she would "like to think they were joking".

Ms Upston said in her job she was surprised on a regular basis, and this was one of those occasions.

"The main thing is that they (the Chamber) have had a reaction and they moved on which I think is a good thing."