An Auckland bar has come under fire for hosting an "aggressively pro-Trump" election night party, with one woman saying she felt threatened and was forced to leave after confronting patrons.
Social media users are calling for a "boycott" of Hoppers in Ponsonby after images and video of the party were posted to social media, showing several people wearing MAGA caps and waving US flags.
But the bar issued a statement on Thursday claiming to "have no political agenda", saying the party was "purely a space for both parties to come together freely to express personal beliefs".
Hoppers took the space of Auckland stalwart Golden Dawn in 2018, which was famously known for being a safe gathering spot for all individuals, including the LBTQI community.
Director of Aotearoa Science Damian Christie took to Twitter on Wednesday to reveal he chose not to attend the refurbished bar after learning of the event.
"I was going to go and console myself by having a beer at Hoppers, the bar that's taken the place of Golden Dawn in Ponsonby," he wrote on Twitter. "Then I'm told the owners are big Trump fans and having a MAGA hat election party there right now. So I guess I'm never drinking there again then, huh?"
Others echoed his sentiments, with welfare and hospitality advocate and Raise the Bar spokesperson Chloe Ann-King writing online the MAGA caps donned by punters at the gathering were "a symbol of white supremacy/nazism, sexism, and hatred".
"The employer had a duty of care to their workers to ask the patron's to leave. They failed to do so. Boycott this venue," she wrote.
Ann-King told Newshub she represents hospitality workers who have "experienced ongoing racism in the wider industry".
However, others disagreed, with former National MP Paula Bennett replying to Christie and encouraging him to head along to the bar.
"It's the Americans that let politics deeply divide them. Let's not be the same," she wrote. "Go and have a beer and respect he thinks differently than you."
Auckland woman Coco Jouavel told Newshub she and several friends were kicked out of the establishment after challenging people at the party on their views, including the owner.
"[We gained] knowledge of Hoppers bar holding a MAGA hat event," she wrote on Instagram.
"On arrival we find MAGA [merchandise] being displayed. I personally see a black man wearing [a MAGA cap] and approach him from a brother to sister stance. I then get told that there's no racism in America," she wrote in her story post.
"While my friend is filming this for records, a white woman who supposedly owns Hopper's bar viciously snatches [the phone] out of my friend's hand and deletes the footage."
"Then her boyfriend lifts his hand to me to try and hit me. I asked him if he was going to hit me and he replied 'if you try anything with my girlfriend then yes'."
Jouavel told Newshub she told party-goers, "you should be ashamed of yourselves".
"I said: 'this is Aotearoa, a land of indigenous people. For you to bring your awful energy and disrespectful views into this place is absolutely disgusting'.
"Everyone was laughing at us," she added. "I said: 'do you all find it funny that you're causing people pain?'"
Staff allegedly began to move Jouavel and her friends towards the exit. "We did not need to be forcibly removed, we were ready to get the f**k out of there," she said, adding Hoppers owner Bronwyn Payne "locked the gates" after they left.
She slammed the bar owners for "enabling and facilitating the space for Trump supporters".
Since the Wednesday night party has come to light, images of Payne wearing a MAGA cap have surfaced online. One online commenter claimed they formerly worked for Payne and described her as "aggressively pro-Trump".
A statement was posted to the official Hoppers Instagram page on Thursday, offering "deepest apologies" to anyone offended.
"Last night's US election viewing was held at the request of our good friends from Los Angeles...a small minority of the Americans that attended were Republican supporters," the post read.
"We were purely providing a space for both parties to come together freely to express their personal believes and civil liberties."
They apologised to anyone "who misunderstood last night's friendly gathering."
The Hoppers Instagram account appeared to be deleting critical comments on Thursday morning, but at the time of publishing several remain up.
"Sorry don't support Trump supporters," one comment read.
"You guys should be ashamed for fuelling bigotry and hatred," read another.
"Yikes... own it go on. You have the right to your political views and we have a right to have an opinion on that," wrote another. "Denying it and deleting comments does not help... hold yourself accountable already."
Newshub has approached Hoppers for comment, but received no response despite the public statement posted to its Instagram.