Teenagers in South Auckland are being sent to work as prostitutes by their parents to pay for drugs, says an Auckland Council member.
Sharon Stewart challenged fellow councillors this week to see what was happening for themselves during debate on a bill banning street prostitution in parts of Manukau.
Mrs Stewart, who represents the Howick ward, said young girls and boys were often on the streets - some of them sent there by their parents.
"Some of their parents are taking them there to get money for drugs."
She told the council meeting that girls as young as 13 were working the streets and urged councillors from other areas of Auckland to join community workers and police one night.
The view was supported by former Manukau City councillor Colleen Brown, who this year took a group of people to Manurewa so they could see what was happening for themselves.
"Definitely the stuff about the parents - they're awful stories," Mrs Brown said.
"There was one gentleman who phoned me up very distressed. He'd come out of the RSA and there was a young girl there who propositioned him and all she had on was a coat.
"And he said to her, 'Young woman, you should be ashamed of yourself. What would your mother think?'
"She replied, 'My mother's on the other side of the street."
Mrs Brown said she'd heard several other stories, including tales of pregnant teenagers working the streets, with their parents in support.
"It's just one of the most desolate sights, watching a pregnant woman [working as a prostitute]. And the worst thing was after she had the baby, the mother looked after it and she went back on to the streets."
Maori warden Diane Black told the Weekend Herald it was not common for parents to send children as street workers but she did know of cases.
In one case a couple used two girls who had been fostered to them.
She said that following publicity about young girls working around areas like the notorious Hunter's Plaza, their numbers had dropped.
But she feared the onset of summer, with its warmer temperatures and school holidays, would result in more young girls working the streets.
At this week's council meeting, Sir John Walker (Manurewa-Papakura) said it was "very difficult" to see young girls standing around waiting for someone to proposition them.
"It's not a good sight."
Councillor Cathy Casey was the only dissenting voice at the meeting and voted against endorsing the Manukau City (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill.
She said it was a double standard because it penalised women and not men who sought their services.
"It will be seized on by rednecks all over the country."