Auckland jewellery shop criticised for 'no burkas' sign

Avondale Coffee and Gems shop
The sign on the front of Avondale's Coffee and Gems shop (Facebook)

An Auckland shop has come under fire for a policy sign on its front door saying "No burkas".

Avondale's Coffee and Gems store sign was noticed in an image emailed to Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey on Thursday.

"A local sent me pics of the 20 Avondale "Begging Is Banned" signs this afternoon which I forwarded to Auckland Council," she wrote on Facebook.

"I was totally speechless when she also sent me this pic of an Avondale shop door sign."

It's in breach of the Human Rights Act, Cr Casey says.

"I have this morning made an official complaint to the Human Rights Commission," she said on Friday.

But owner Louise Brinsden says it's an important rule for purchasing from the public, and is for staff safety. 

"We are a jewellery store run by females located in Avondale. We deal in high value items and it is a security precaution.

"By law if I am to purchase an item from the public I also need to be able to identify the person therefore no facial coverings are permitted.

"We have been located in Avondale well over 20 years and the sign was erected approximately two years ago."

Cathy Casey Facebook post

"In stating "NO BURKAS" I believe the sign infringes the Human Rights Act as it relates to discrimination on the grounds of religious belief. It also discriminates against women," Cr Casey says.

In 2013, newly-appointed Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy faced criticism after expressing the view burqas were "disconcerting".

"Muslim women need to respect the need to sometimes de-robe in order to allow identification while New Zealanders should respect the personal choice made by these women without being ignorant and abusive," she wrote.

"I wouldn't want to see us legislate the ban of the burqa as much as I find them disconcerting."