A Rotorua woman has been arrested after refusing to show a vaccine pass at local list MP Tāmati Coffey's restaurant and bar, with management claiming the incident was a planned stunt, and Coffey himself saying it put customers at risk.
The incident occurred at the popular Our House bar on Wednesday night and was captured on video by the woman, who then shared the footage on social media.
In the video she claims to have been a patron of Our House since it opened and says that she has now been refused service after failing to show a valid vaccine passport.
The woman and her friend were then asked to leave by staff but refused, preferring to wait for police to arrive.
The arrival of the police still did not prompt the women to budge, with video showing them attempting to argue the law with a masked police officer.
The officer attempts to explain that police are enforcing the restaurant's decision to trespass the women, as they repeatedly ask for documentary proof of this.
They go on to claim they are being discriminated against and have a "human right to go out to dinner".
The woman's friend says she is going to step outside to call her lawyer, just as police move to place the woman under arrest for trespass.
She smiles at the camera as she is placed in handcuffs, before she is marched from the premises.
Tim Smith, who co-owns Our House with his husband, Labour MP Tāmati Coffey, told the Herald that the incident appeared to have been designed by the women as a "calculated and deliberate" publicity stunt.
He said they walked past clear signage at the entrance and demanded to be served, showing aggressive behaviour.
They also targeted a group of youth volunteers who were at the restaurant celebrating their work on the successful Vax Vegas vaccination campaign, calling them "sellouts".
Other patrons were also targeted, with Smith saying the women referred to them as "sheep" and "less than Māori".
Smith said the vast majority of the community had supported them throughout the pandemic and this was the first time they have had to remove someone for flouting Covid regulations.
He said the women refused to leave and "demanded to be assaulted" by staff, with their behaviour causing so much concern that tables were cleared so they did not have easy access to anything they might use as weapons.
He said they were verbally abusive to other diners and did not let up on the foul language, even as they were removed by police.
Tāmati Coffey told the Herald the stunt was "uncalled for and out of line".
"Hospitality cafes and restaurants in Rotorua are doing it really tough right now," Coffey said.
"Stunts like this make it hard for our workers to do their jobs, but even worse, it puts our customers at risk too.
"I am calling on those people who think this is fun, to stop it."
Police told the Herald that they attended Our House after they received a report of disorder.
"Police attended and advised two people that they were trespassed at the request of the lawful occupier," a spokesperson said.
"After being given reasonable time to leave and warned that they would be arrested if they did not leave, one person was arrested when refusing to leave. A trespass notice and formal warning was issued."