When the Massage Parlour’s Bill was passed in September 1978 it was done without the deletion of items which the select Committee had agreed to,  resulting in conflict betwen the Physiotherapy Act and the Massage Parlour’s Act.  A letter was sent to the Society regarding the deletion of the term masseur from section 26 of the Physiotherapy Act[1].

The matter was further considered in Secember 1978 and March 1979.

The Massage Parlours Act was again reviewed in September 1990 and the Society sent a submsion to the Working Group on Occupational Regulations[2].

In 1994 the Ministry sought the view of the Society on the use of disclaimers by massage therapists who claim to provide therapeutic or remedial massage,  but who clearly state that they are not practising physiotherapy,  nor are they registered under the Physiotherapy Act.  The issue has been exacerbated with the trend towards the use of complementary therapies with a non-medical bias.  Executive were unanimous that under the Physiotherapy Act only persons registered under the Act could advertise as practising physiotherapy and this protection included the advertising of therapeutic or remedial massage.

The use of disclaimers would not reduce the statutory obligations of the Ministry under the Act and would therefore only link registered physiotherapists and non registered people more closely together in the minds of the public. 

While the Ministry of Health agreed that the practice of therapeutic/remedial massage comes within the definition of physiotherapy they took a fairly lenient stance against the use of the terms by non registered people.  An instance of this is the NZ Assn. of Therapeutic Massage Practitioners,  an organisation whose members regularly advertise as practising therapeutic massage.  The NZQA looked at an application for a National Diploma course for “therapeutic massage practitioners”, but would like the legality of the terms clarified. 

Support for the use of disclaimers by the Ministry appears to be a back door method to circumnavigate the legislative process required to amend the Physiotherapy Act[3].

The Ministry of Health took a fairly pragmatic stance against the use of the terms by non registered people and acted only on complaints sent to the Ministry.  Physiotherapists were encouraged to advise National Office of any false or illegal advertisements.  A position paper on Massage was issued in 1995.

The Society,  through the President,  and a representative from the Ministry of Health,  attended a Massage Therapy Conference in 1995.  Points of view were shared and in many cases issues of concern were clarified.  The physiotherapy view of the massage therapy in the health care system was presented by the NZSP President.  The Ministry representative clarified the terms that massage practitioners could use in describing their form of massage therapy without breaching the terms of the Physiotherapy  Act.  These two important presentations were shared with Society members later that year. l[4].


[1] E/M 23-9-78

[2] E/M 1/2 - 9 - 90 -

[3] E/M 1-10-94

[4] E/M 7-5-95

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