If you're keen on checking out a brothel, then Hawera's the place to go on March 12.

The local brothel Shh ... in Union St is offering tours for a gold-coin donation. The money will go to the Kai Kitchen Charity which makes more than 30 school lunches for children in need in the town.

Going public from 11am to 1pm was the brainchild of best mates Rochelle (Rocky) Steer and brothel owner Nicky Hughes.

Ms Steer said at first it was just going be a public open day to take the mystery out of sex work.


"Then Nicky decided we should have a gold-coin donation as well and give the money to the Kai Kitchen Charity which I set up and Nicky is one of my helpers."

Last May Ms Hughes, who is married with three children and is an apprentice electrician, bought the local brothel, Ms Steer said.

"It didn't surprise me. She's always been a bit alternative.

"Leasing the building and putting in the new brothel didn't surprise me at all. She has a manager and only works Friday and Saturday nights herself on reception ... you know answering the door and the phone and stuff."

The site, which is upstairs, had been a brothel for more than 20 years in Hawera, she said.

"It was called The Angel when Nicky took over.

Before that it was called The G Spot and Hearts and Amour but everyone called it the Hearts and Armour.

"It was a dirty old dump, really shabby and an absolute disgrace, so Nicky and I got to work, cleaned it up and painted it.

"It is actually an old three-bedroomed apartment so once all the dirt came off, what a transformation. It looks beautiful, Ms Steer said.

"There are three very attractive rooms. The British room with all English-style furnishings and pictures, the Victorian room with a four-poster bed and the Black and White room. The Black and White room is really the safety room. It is next door to the office, so if a girl is not happy about a client she can easily get help by knocking on the wall."

Three of the girls who work there will take the guided tours.

"The girls who work here are mostly local, with a few from other places in the region," Ms Steer said.

There's a lot of industry in this region, so there is always business, she said.

"Nicky has got the kindest heart of anyone I know and she really believes the brothel is an essential service.

Like there's an old man whose wife is dying and he comes in once a week, pays his money mostly just to talk. The girls sit and listen to him and hold his hand ... well, sometimes other stuff, of course, but really he just wants companionship. It's very good for him."

Both Ms Steer and Ms Hughes say they believe their open house is about educating the public.

Ms Hughes said, for her, the business was about the community.

"The elderly who have lost their wives, the singletons who don't have time for a partner and the physically and mentally disabled who would never know about themselves and sex."

And, of course, there were always the cheaters, she said.

"You know, the guy who takes his wedding ring off as he is coming up the stairs. But there's no emotion attached to it, so there's no harm."

Her friends had been very supportive since she took over.

"But my parents were surprised and have been giving me a hard time because they always thought I was bit prudish."

The open day is sure to be a success, Ms Steer said.

"Because the bottom line really is that people are basically nosy. They want to know what goes on here."

The news that the tours will raise money for a children's charity has already gone from regional coverage to national and international, Ms Hughes said.

She has been contacted by the BBC, the Guardian and the Daily Mail as well as radio and television stations.

Ms Hughes said they both realised from the start that having an open day was going to attract a lot of attention " ... which is good.

"More people the better, [it] means more money for our cause. Our kids here are very important to us."