The Mazengarb Report

Stuff reports:

Wellington flew into a moral panic in 1954 after a teenage sex “gang” was found in the Hutt Valley.

Revelations that groups of Lower Hutt teenagers were meeting at a milk bar in Petone to have sex shocked the city.

Murky stories about young men on bikes and assignations by the banks of the river appalled parents and made them wonder what society was coming to.

There are clearly dark aspects to what went on, but most of it, though, was just teenagers having sex.

As they have done for several thousand years!

The Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch a few months later – the source for Sir Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures – added to the outrage and convinced Sidney Holland’s National Government that it had to be seen to do something.

It appointed Wellington lawyer Oswald Mazengarb to head a commission.

Mazengarb was an eloquent and charming man, but also a puritanical moralist with a streak of fundamentalism.

So what did the report find:

In former times it was the custom for boys to take the initiative in seeking the company of girls; it was conventional for the girls to await any advances. Nowadays, girls do not always wait for an advance to be made to them


Perhaps the most startling feature is the changed mental attitude of many young people towards this evil. Some offend because they crave popularity or want to do what their friends are doing. Some assert a right to do what is regarded by religion, law, and convention as wrongful. It was reported that some of the girls were either unconcerned or unashamed, and even proud, of what they had done.

Those hussies. They were not ashamed of having sex.

One of the recommendations:

When crime serials are broadcast it should be made obvious that crime does not pay


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