Where to Get Free Sanitary Products: A Critic Investigation

Where to Get Free Sanitary Products: A Critic Investigation

Sanitary items are super expensive, and if you menstruate, there is no avoiding them. Being a broke student means that having to trade in a night out with mates for tampons and pain medication is an inconvenient, but doable, sacrifice. But what if getting your period means having to skip meals, cancel a doctor’s appoint, or resort to unhygienic practices? There’s a name for that: Period Poverty. There is some action being taken to fight this in New Zealand, but lobbying the Government for shit always takes forever. So what options do you have in the meantime?


Last year, OUSA got on top of sorting out free sanitary items for students, as awareness grew around just how fucking spenny sanitary items are. OUSA signed a deal with U by Kotex during O-Week 2017. They got some stock and ran a small-scale pilot of free sanitary items at a few key locations. Sage Burke, the manager of Student Support, added that these locations included some bathrooms, but that this was ultimately unsustainable. So, in 2018, where can you go to get the goods?

OUSA Student Support: For the most discreet acquisition of free tampons or pads, go to student support at 5 Ethel Benjamin Place. As you walk through the door you will immediately lay eyes on the shelf where they live. You can probably get some without having to talk to anyone, which is a bonus.

OUSA Main Office – Reception: This is the same place you go to get free wall planners at the start of the year, or when you’ve lost something. Same deal as before – there is a bowl of sanitary items on the counter that you’re welcome to. Not as discreet because there will be someone at the desk, but the person there is usually Esther and she’s a sweetheart.

OUSA Rec Centre (Albany St): This is the most secretive of all free sanitary item locations. Unlike the other two, there is no bowl on the desk. Instead, you have to ask whoever is at the counter if you can dip into their stash behind the desk. When asked why, the receptionist responded that the sanitary items are “there for emergencies. People were taking the opportunity to stock up for the whole month”. 

OUSA’s Women’s Room (first floor of the Union Building): This is the best place to not be seen grabbing a tampon, but it is prone to running out! (Also, if you don’t already know where the Women’s Room is, and your period situation is dire, it could be a risky adventure.)


In an apocalyptic scenario where all four locations are empty, you have a last resort in the Campus Shop in the link. But they are expensive – ranging from $7 to $9 a packet! Yikes! 

This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2018.
Posted 8:19pm Thursday 17th May 2018 by Sinead Gill.