Demonstrators have marched down Queen Street in front of the controversial Boobs on Bikes parade in an effort to raise awareness of the links between pornography and violence against women and children.
Around 60 protesters carried a banner saying "Pornography fuels sexual violence against women and children" as well as signs bearing slogans such as "porn fuels rape".
A legal bid to stop the Boobs on Bike parade organised by porn distributor Steve Crow to promote his Erotica festival, failed in the High Court in Auckland yesterday.
Mr Crow, in a black Bentley convertible, today lead the parade of about 100 including topless women riding on motor bikes and tanks, and drag queens and supporters.
Thousands of spectators lined Queen Street, in some places up to 10 deep, and workers leaned out of windows and sat on balconies to watch the parade through the central city.
People also watched from the top of bus stops and payphones, recording the parade with their cameras and cellphones.
The Auckland Women's Centre and Stop Demand organised the demonstration against Boobs on Bikes and received a permit from the Auckland City Council for their march.
Auckland City councillor Cathy Casey had threatened to lie down in the road to stop the parade but instead joined the organised protest. When asked why she had backed down she said she had joined a demonstration with a permit.
Stop Demand founder Denise Ritchie lead the march with a megaphone and said those who joined the demonstration were brave.
Earlier she described the Boobs on Bike parade as free advertising.
She said a case in June where a 60 year-old Wanganui man was convicted of performing sexual acts on his severely handicapped wife after watching a pornography film with two other men highlights the link between the industry and sexual abuse.
"Female porn stars are paid big money to simulate scenes of rape, sexual violation and degradation for the purposes of male sexual arousal and gratification," Ms Ritchie said.
Ms Ritchie said the Boobs on Bikes parade was advertised as "titillation' but Mr Crow's business centred on the hardcore industry.
Ms Ritchie said both groups would direct their message to the thousands of pornography users that would be downtown and to the wider public, that pornography fuelled sexual violence against women and children.
She said a Treasury working paper estimated sexual violence cost the New Zealand economy $1.2 billion, $827 million being the loss of quality of life for victims, across an estimated 16,500 sex offences in the 2003/04 fiscal year.
New Zealand's chief censor, pornography investigators and global research were unanimous in reporting hard core pornography, which made up the bulk of Mr Crow's commercial interests and profits, was increasingly cruel, misogynistic and degrading of women, she said.
The group's main message was that sexual violence does not take place in a vacuum, she said.
"It is underpinned by attitudes and messages, many of which are fuelled and normalised by the hard core porn industry.
"In New Zealand, that fueller is self-proclaimed porn king Steve Crow."
- with NZPA