A mother says she felt embarrassed and discriminated against after being kicked out of Tauranga's Bayfair Mall for wearing a bikini top.
On Friday, Rotorua woman Gemma-Elaine Duggan was at the beach with her family when she lost her singlet and decided to head to the mall to purchase a top.
But after briefly walking around the mall, she claims she was approached by a security guard who said she had to leave the mall because she was wearing a bikini top.
Bayfair did not respond to approaches from the Herald. A spokeperson on Friday requested written questions be sent for consideration. But as of Saturday afternoon, no response was provided.
"I was mortified. I was so upset I just left. He created a scene in front of everyone by shouting across the mall, 'Excuse me. Excuse me. Buy a shirt or leave'," Duggan claimed.
"I said, 'That's why I'm in here because I don't have my singlet. We're not from here so I can't just go home and get one'.
"He said, 'You have to have a shirt, Kmart is right there'. I said, 'If you had been following me on CCTV footage you'll see I'm going to the more expensive shops because I'd like to buy an outfit, not just a shirt'.
"I was told I breached their rules of entry. I had shorts on. I went in there with the intent to shop, to buy a shirt.
"He wasn't quiet or polite about it. He called out across the mall. I wasn't aware I was breaching any rules they had."
Duggan, who was born and raised in Tauranga, went to her car where she was close to tears while her husband approached the security guard.
According to an entry sign there is to be "no smoking or vaping, riding, bikes, alcohol, loitering and gang regalia".
After taking a photo of the sign, Duggan's husband approached the security asking where the 'no swimwear' rule was on the sign.
She says the security guard admitted the no swimwear policy wasn't on the sign, but told her husband the rule came from the owner.
"My husband approached the security guard and said, 'You tell me where it says on here no swimwear'. The security said, 'It doesn't but it's the owner's rule'.
"My husband said, 'If you look at half these girls with their arses hanging out of their shorts and wearing boob tubes... but my 33-year-old wife can't wear a bikini top after coming from the beach?' The security guard told him if he's going to speak like that he needs to leave."
Duggan is concerned it could happen to other women.
"We were treated like absolute criminals. I'm certain it was because I'm covered in tattoos and have red hair, when in fact I'm a respectful citizen.
"I work, I pay my taxes, I give back to the community. I was born and raised in Tauranga. It really upsets me.
"I'm embarrassed. If they're going to treat me that way they could very well do it to other women.
"I feel like they looked at my appearance and made a judgement that I was trouble and they didn't want me there so they decided the easiest way to get me out is to say I can't wear a bikini top."
Duggan posted about the experience on social media and locals jumped to her defence.
"What the ACTUAL f***! That's exactly what the mount is known for? Bikinis and beach babes," one said.
Another added: "That's awful. Nothing wrong with a bikini top. Seen a lot worse walking through the mall."
In a separate incident, staff thought to be from Bayfair also approached two teenagers who tried to enter Kmart in the Bayfair shopping centre wearing a bikini top and shorts.
Lily Quill, 16, and her friend Maggie, also 16, were approached by what they describe as a man "in uniform like some sort of Bayfair security" who told the teens they could not go in.
"We both stopped and looked at each other and thought what the heck what's going on," Lily said
"There was a lot of people round and it felt like it was a bit of a scene because people started to look. My friend Maggie and I both started to giggle because we didn't really know what he meant so I asked him, 'Why can't we go in there?' and he said, 'You can't go in there wearing that and no shirt'."
The teen says both she and her friend were "totally surprised" and "embarrassed" by the situation.
"We were we were laughing but at the same time I just couldn't believe that the whole day with been walking around in the Mount just having fun and now suddenly we couldn't even going to Kmart to get my mum her iPhone case. And at this point my mum stepped forward he didn't even know that she was with us and she asked him what the problem was."
The security guard reportedly told Lily's mum the girls would not be allowed in with bikini tops on.
The teenager told the Herald the encounter was even more surprising considering how many males were walking around Bayfair, "rolling in and out of Kmart", without their tops on.
When questioned, the guard reportedly told the teens it was a Bayfair rule "for their own safety".
The girls eventually got T-shirts from the car so they could enter the store and double-checked that the rules at the door made no mention of "no bikinis".
"We decided to look at the rules on the door which this guy mentioned to us. It said no smoking no loitering no alcohol and all this other stuff. No where did it say no bikinis.
"I don't understand why we can't wear bikinis we were happily dressed in our bikinis and shorts all day no one had a problem with that the whole of the day we were happy girls enjoying our life in the Mount. Suddenly when we went to Bayfair this guy was somehow making out we were wrong, dirty, there was something wrong with our bodies, the way we were dressed.
"It's not for Bayfair to decide for us as young women what we can and cannot wear," the teen added.