Auckland Council to reconsider swimsuit 'decency' rules after bikini incident

Auckland Council will look into how it implements decency rules around swimwear after a woman was told her bikini was inappropriate at a North Shore pool.

Yvette Harvie-Salter was sitting in the adults-only spa at Albany Stadium Pool on Saturday when a duty manager told her others had complained about her togs and she needed to change into a more modest swimsuit or cover up with a towel.

The "humiliating" confrontation left her confused, as she told Magic Talk's Brendan Telfer she was wearing a "standard bikini" that was "not a thong".

Rob McGee, head of Active Recreation at Auckland Council, told Magic Talk's Ryan Bridge that he has apologised to Harvie-Salter.

"We made a bad judgement, the wrong judgement call in passing that information on."

He said he doesn't know all the details yet, and so is unsure why pool users complained about the bikini, nor why the duty manager felt the need to tell Harvie-Salter about their comments.

"Generally we're really relaxed about what swimwear people wear to the pool," he said.

"We do have some rules in place around hygiene and safety, so we don't allow people to wear streetwear, denim shorts or pants or undergarments.

"Outside of that, we just want people to be comfortable in whatever they decide to wear to our facilities."

When Bridge asked if that meant budgie smugglers are allowed, McGee said it's fine - as long as the wearers feel comfortable.

However he drew the line at the idea of women going topless at the pool like men do. 

"We've got to be aware of what might be appropriate and indecent. If that happened we wouldn't allow that."

Bridge pointed out that New Zealand indecency laws only apply to genitals, so topless women are not considered to be exposing themselves. He also mentioned that many older or heavier men have chest fat equivalent to women's breasts but aren't asked to cover it up.

"Our rules are in place at the moment for safety and hygiene reasons and that's all," McGee replied. "That's why we ask people to wear certain types of swimwear."

McGee said in the wake of the bikini incident, Auckland Council is reconsidering its swimsuit policy.

"That's something we're looking into at the moment to really understand. This is the first time this type of incident has come up for us. We need to understand how we approach this in the future. 

"We're looking into how we set the limits and assess what might be appropriate in the future, where that line is and whether we need to change current rules.

"At the moment we feel comfortable with where we've set them, but this has just reminded us we probably need to have a look at other consequences."