A good old cuppa is unlikely to fix the problem brewing between the Rupa family and the Auckland City Council.

The new Bushells Tea sign in Freemans Bay - paid for by the Rupas - is causing a stir, after the city council ordered a family credit be painted over.

Dilip Rupa was served an abatement notice this week giving him four weeks to remove the wording "solely funded by the Rupas", or risk prosecution under the Resource Management Act.


A furious Mr Rupa said the council should concentrate on the bigger issues.

"This is the first written acknowledgement of what we have done from the city council and it's a criticism of us. I think it stinks.

"The building is an icon, we have done it all," he said.

"What the city council is failing to realise is we have done something special for Auckland."

Mr Rupa questioned the legality of the council notice, because the resource consent condition applied to the original sign, which had been removed from the building facade and replaced with a $5000 replica.

The original sign had been restored and was now kept inside the building.

Mr Rupa said his family had owned the buildings on Wellington St since 1953 and had spent $20,000 renovating them.

He believed the abatement notice was a violation of his freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights and he did not plan to remove the wording.

"People love it, they think it's wonderful. I've had three offers from people who want to do restoration to their building."

A council spokesman said the sign did not meet the requirements of the resource consent.

Erecting a replica sign was in breach of the resource consent, which was to restore the original sign. Therefore, the abatement notice was valid.

"There has been ongoing discussion between the council and Mr Rupa about getting the wording right, and restoring it to the original wording."