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Consent is a vital part of having a positive sexual experience with another person. Both participating parties must have given consent before engaging in any kind of sexual act, it is important to make sure both yourself and the person you are with feel comfortable and safe. Consent should be clearly and verbally given. If you are unsure whether a person is giving consent or what signals they are sending, you should ask for verbal confirmation, even if you perceive consent has been given through other actions (touching, flirting etc).

Asking for consent can be stigmatised as being scary or ruining the mood, but it does not have to feel this way. If you are unsure of how to ask for consent before engaging in a sexual act, here are some prompts for you:


Do you want to…?


Can we have/can we try …?


Is it okay if we…?


Do you feel like …?

It is important to remember that once consent is given it can be withdrawn at any time and does not bind you to continue if you feel uncomfortable. If you change your mind, it is okay to say stop or I don’t like that”. You should ensure that the person you are with respects you and doesn’t pressure you into giving consent or to continue a sexual activity that has made you uncomfortable. Pay attention to the person you are with and how they are feeling. If they appear withdrawn or uncomfortable, you should check in with them. You can check in with the other participating party by asking questions such as: 


Do you like this?

Is this okay?


Consent should be enthusiastic, meaning the other person doesn’t seem hesitant or feel pressured. 

Not enthusiastic consent 


“I guess so”

“I’m not sure”

“Okay, fine”

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Consent has been given


“I like that”

“I want to”

“I’m open to trying ...”

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Consent cannot be given when...


  • The person is unresponsive, disengaged or visibly upset.

  • They are underage, the age of consent in NZ is 16. 

  • The person is unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate verbal (or NZSL) consent. 

  • A person is incapacitated due to the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • A person has given into coercion or persistent pressuring.

  • It is based on assumption; Kissing, Flirting and wearing revealing clothes is not an open invitation.

  • It is based on the assumption that it is okay because you have done it before, it doesn’t matter how many times.

  • It is based on the assumption that it is okay because you are in a romantic relationship. 

  • “No” is being ignored.

  • A person is subjected to a sexual act by force.

  • A person is pressured into giving consent by fear or intimidation.  

A particular problem that Aunty Hilda has observed in social groups and high school parties in Dunedin was pressuring people to give “consent”. This happens in cases when people know verbal consent is required, but when it is not received, they persist until the other person finally gives in. Bugging someone all night until they say yes is not called consent, it is called coercion. If you notice someone is trying to pressure you or somebody else into committing a sexual act, if you feel safe doing so, you could try to educate them better and inform them that what they are doing is not getting proper consent. Some people who do this may be unaware that they are doing something wrong and may change their behaviour upon hearing this. If you are in an unsafe situation and do not feel okay doing that, look for your friends or someone you trust and tell them what is happening. If you aren’t able to physically remove yourself from an unsafe situation, you can make the people around you aware using eye contact and body language. A good idea is to establish a code word or a hand signal with your friends, so they know you need help and vice versa. If you notice someone else is being pressured into giving consent or looks uncomfortable, there are many ways you can intervene. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable directly intervening you could call the person you wish to help over like you want to talk to them, even if you do not know them you can pretend you do, remove them from the situation and ask if they are okay and feel safe.

It is important to look out for your friends, and to have friends that look out for you.

Consent can also be different if you’re in a relationship with somebody who is transgender. The presence of gender dysphoria can mean that people who are currently transitioning become a lot more insecure about their bodies.


Consent is also important in non-sexual circumstances

Consent is also important in non-sexual circumstances. Whether you’re in a non-sexual relationship or not, consent should always be given when partaking in touching that isn’t sexual in nature, such as cuddling, hair ruffling, or tickling. 


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