Miss Bartlett, as she was universally known to New Zealanders in the 1970s, stood bravely but in vain against the tide of her times.

By November 1980, when asked what New Zealand would be like in 20 years' time, she replied in a voice slow and thick with bitterness: "It won't be worth living in this country and I just hope I'm dead."

Patricia Bartlett was a nun and a teacher, but it was as founder of the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards in 1970 which made her the country's most prominent and most ridiculed lobbyist. She led the society for 25 years.


She began her crusade in 1970 when she organised petitions asking the Government to include sexual intercourse, nudity, bare female breasts and homosexual and lesbian love scenes under the legal definition of indecency in films, literature and on stage. The petition did not make it past Parliament's petitions committee.

Against the tide of liberalism, she waged war on pornography, abortion, sex education and insisted that nudity on beaches would lead to fornication.

As someone certain of her own mind she was unmoved and never ignored. Ridicule did not worry her, and she exhibited a dry sense of humour.

During her repeated attempts to have the Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange sent back to the Film Censorship Board of Review she recalled being depicted in a cartoon with the then Internal Affairs Minister Alan Highet as Adam and Eve.

"We had fig leaves on strategic parts and he was holding out to me not an apple, as Eve gave Adam, but an orange."

Her doggedness included being dragged by her heels out of a Wellington bookshop after she tried to buy two paperback books and copies of a student newspaper, and claims that a Supreme Court verdict clearing the nude stage show Hair of indecency had opened the floodgates of decadence.

In 1985, Miss Bartlett called the police after she allegedly spotted under-age children at an R13 film, Terminator. There were no arrests.

Miss Bartlett was awarded the OBE in 1977 for services to the community. Her funeral will be held in Napier on Tuesday.