Leo Molloy pushed ahead with his controversial plans for a level 2 party at his HeadQuarters bar - carefully following level-2 hospitality rules.

Around 80 punters - including politicians and TV personalities - enjoyed a quiet evening at the venue at Auckland's waterfront.

Brian Tamaki departs the HeadQuarters party after a tuna entree. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Brian Tamaki departs the HeadQuarters party after a tuna entree. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Molloy had said his event on Friday night would be a dinner party and there would be separate bubbles of between two and nine people. But there will be an area cordoned off if guests want to form a new bubble temporarily.

Guests arriving at the bar were checked off the guest list before they were temperature tested by staff and allowed inside.

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A guest is temperature checked as he arrives at HeadQuarters bar. Photo / Brett Phibbs
A guest is temperature checked as he arrives at HeadQuarters bar. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Brian and Hannah Tamaki were among those at the event after 100 of Molloy's friends were invited. However Tamaki only stayed long enough to enjoy an entree of tuna, saying he had a prior commitment to attend.

Level2Lifts and it’s straight out for dinner HeadQuarters Viaduct, our bubbles entact, social spacing. Trendsetters right here yo ! Celebrating Jamie Warren turning 21! Happy Birthday !!!!

Posted by Jevan Goulter on Friday, 15 May 2020

Tamaki said the event was very well run, with the quests appearing to be having a good time.

The Destiny Church pastor also made headlines this week by planning to hold his own Sunday service that risks flouting level 2 guidelines on gatherings.

It was his first outing to a restaurant since the lockdown started, Tamaki said.

"It's all done orderly and well," Tamaki said of the event.

"They're keeping to the protocol so it's fantastic."

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Asked if he could get used to life at level 2, Tamaki said he was keen to get back to normal like many others were.

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He was dumbfounded by how the churches were not allowed more than 10 people to attend services. He confirmed Destiny Church's plan to hold a service on Sunday featuring three large screens and a drive-in church.

National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett and former New Zealand women's rugby international and television presenter Melodie Robinson also attended.

For starters, guests dined on cheese on toast, provolone, rosemary-infused honey, candied walnuts and toasted ciabatta, wood-fired flat bread, confit garlic and herbs, seared tuna, Nicoise flavours.

The mains featured flame grilled Wakanui grain-fed scotch fillet, served with spiced, rubbed rotisserie Bostock chicken, West Coast line-caught hapuka, buttery mash, wood-roasted broccolini, rocket and reggiano, salad and "signature HQ coleslaw".

For dessert, there was burnt lemon tart and whipped cream, "Hannah's damn fine smashed cherry pie", cumin syrup and homemade vanilla icecream.

A note to guests said they could extend their bubbles: Wines, beer and liquor were available "in a limited capacity while under level 2". Guests were asked not to overdo it, "and be generous with hand sanitiser".

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Molloy has courted controversy with his party plan, which was decried by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other bar owners.

Earlier on Friday a post on HeadQuarters' Facebook page addressed to "the online bullies", "threatmakers" and the media said "you're wasting your time...we'll never buckle to you, or your toxicity, so take it elsewhere please."

Owner Leo Molloy posses with guests at tonight's 'dummy run' party. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Owner Leo Molloy posses with guests at tonight's 'dummy run' party. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The event was relatively low-key inside HQ, with guests enjoying a drink and a bite to eat and the music playing quietly enough for people to talk to one another.

Among those on the original guest list were former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, Auckland MP Nikki Kaye, Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere, band members from True Bliss and former MP Hone Harawira.

Under alert level 2, cafes, schools, gyms, hairdressers, retail stores, restaurants, and other public spaces reopened on Thursday but bars have to wait a further 10 days to reopen as drinks-only facilities.

Leo Molloy has courted controversy with his plan for a level 2 party.
Leo Molloy has courted controversy with his plan for a level 2 party.

Gatherings have been capped at 10 people and no more than 100 people are allowed in venues at one time. People must be seated and all require physical distancing.

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Guests arrive at the HeadQuarters bar, owned by Leo Molloy, for tonight's level 2 party. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Guests arrive at the HeadQuarters bar, owned by Leo Molloy, for tonight's level 2 party. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Elsewhere last night the Viaduct harbour was dimly light with Soul bar the busiest of the lot. Groups of people were walking along the waterfront but the numbers were scarce compared to a normal Friday night.