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A prostitutes' advocate has become the first New Zealander since David Lange 25 years ago to speak at a debate at Oxford University.

Catherine Healy, national co-ordinator of the Prostitutes Collective successfully argued that prostitution should be legalised, The Dominion Post reported.

She was on a team led by the Women's Institute up against a police officer in charge of Ipswich, where five prostitutes were murdered four years ago.

Her team won by 127 votes to 90.

Ms Healy said she had to overcome nerves when preparing to speak but she believed her team was successful because it provided solutions backed up by real experiences and research.

Prostitution was decriminalised in New Zealand in 2003.