An Auckland woman has been left shaken after a "heated" incident at an Auckland bar over the long weekend, where staff allegedly accused her of being male and forced her to leave after she used the women's bathroom.
A spokesperson for the venue called the incident "deeply regrettable", but stopped short of offering an apology.
Jana Tauroa-Rauhihi popped to the toilet during "a normal night out" with her partner and friends at AndrewAndrew bar on Quay Street in the early hours of Monday morning. She said her girlfriend also came to use the bathroom about two or three minutes later.
"I said 'just come in my cubicle'," Tauroa-Rauhihi recounted to Newshub. "I didn't think it was a big deal."
"About two minutes later the bartender started banging on the door and saying two people weren't allowed in a cubicle - we thought it was weird, but were leaving anyway."
On exiting the bathroom they were confronted by two staff members - the bar's bouncer and a person Tauroa-Rauhihi believes may have been the manager. Tauroa-Rauhihi said the pair alleged she was male and reprimanded her partner for having a man accompany her to the women's bathroom.
"They kept saying [to my partner] 'he can't be in there with you'," Tauroa-Rauhihi said. "She was trying to tell them 'SHE is not a HE, she is a she!'. It got really heated."
Tauroa-Rauhihi said she also had to repeatedly convince the pair she wasn't male and "in the end, I lifted up my top to show them I wasn't."
She's been mistaken for a different gender before and says it's "no big deal".
But AndrewAndrew staff's lack of apology shocked her.
"People make mistakes, but they never said sorry - I saw this small glimpse of shock in their faces, then they continued to tell us to get out [of the bar]," Tauroa-Rauhihi said.
"I'm used to that kind of back and forth but my partner isn't... she got really upset.
"They said it's because there were two of us in the cubicle, but we've been going there for years and they've never enforced that.
"Why would you not say sorry?"
In a statement to Newshub, Auckland hospitality stalwart and AndrewAndrew spokesperson Richard McCabe said the bar "prides itself on our inclusiveness".
"AndrewAndrew is a place that welcomes everyone, regardless of their sexual preferences... our team have a responsibility to keep all customers safe," he said.
"It is unfortunate that the situation escalated and that the customers were asked to leave."
McCabe refuted Tauroa-Rauhihi's account of the evening's events, claiming that "at no point did any of our staff members make any accusations regarding the gender of the customers involved".
However, he conceded: "It's deeply regrettable that this occurred and we understand this would be hurtful and cause upset for those involved."
Tauroa-Rauhihi said she "probably won't" head back to AndrewAndrew in future. That sentiment is echoed by her friend Nicholas Montgomery, who addressed the incident in a public post on his Facebook page, writing he had been attending the bar with his friends for over three years.
"But tonight was the final time we will set foot in your premises," he wrote.
"I imagine that our absence will cause no significant impact to your financial takings. However on the off chance that you see this, perhaps clue your staff up on the ways in which they interact with your customers."