First the ban on wearing your 'jammies to the pictures in Hawera, now this – an Akaroa restaurant, The Little Bistro (no relation), has banned children aged under 10 – because they're just so noisy, dangerous, annoying, just so … you know … childlike.

It's been a well-received move, with lots of social media support and positive feedback. Which, of course, doesn't make it right, just popular.

It's also discriminatory in the old-fashioned sense, excluding a class of people based on a characteristic they can do nothing about – in this case, their age. Patrons will vote with their credit cards either to stay away or to pack out the Little Bistro every hour it's open.

The ban also reflects a regrettable attitude to children in general, the possibly subconscious view that they are not really people (many actual people, I know, hold this view consciously). It's the same sort of objectification that used to let us think it was okay to hit them.


In general, other people's children are a pain. It's bad enough having to deal with your own and their creative ways of being annoying. Yet I'd rather put up with being around somebody's else's badly behaved kid than spend any amount of time in an artificially rarefied atmosphere that's been created by eliminating them from the environment.

Tolerating children is, or should be, one of the signs of a decent society and a mature adult human.

One significant reason for the ban cited by the restaurant's owners was that a waitress was hurt when a careening moppet bumped into her while she was carrying a tray of glasses.

That is indeed distressing and if we lived in a world where drunk adult patrons never collided with wait staff and drenched them in scalding bouillabaisse it would indeed be an argument for such a ban.

But if we're going to start excluding groups from restaurants because they annoy other patrons, children should be just the beginning. There are many categories of diners who regularly spoil other people's enjoyment.

First up, especially in certain parts of Auckland, is The TV "Personality" sweeping into the restaurant in full "Yes – it's me!" mode. They're a safety risk in themselves as they do two circuits of the restaurant to make sure everyone has seen them before they finally sit down.

There's The Connoisseur, who needs to know every detail of every element of every item on the menu before making their selection. Meanwhile, others waiting to have their orders taken must sit by in teeth-grindingly impotent silent fury. Once their order has been taken The Connoisseur is likely to call a waiter back with at least two changes of mind. And they will send at least one course back to the kitchen because it's not right.

There's The Traveller, with a particular request that he or she has had met without question in Hanoi/Paris/Portland and can't believe they can't manage such a simple task here.

There's The Selfie Table, whose members spend most of the evening asking other diners if they wouldn't' mind shifting just for a moment while they take a photo thank you they're sorry to be such a nuisance please don't hate them.

There are The Power Diners who have come out only to talk as loudly as possible about their business triumphs and the great ideas they have going forward and how if these people they're in bed with at the moment can't see sense they're going to take their ideas somewhere else.

There's The Miserable Work Do, where people with nothing in common except the ability to earn a living all doing the same thing are required to socialise for a special occasion which will almost certainly be the fact that one of them is leaving. The general mood of despondency is increased by seething envy at the departee's lucky escape.

You can see why Uber Eats is doing so well.