Golden Bay cafe owner 'opts out' of traffic light system by claiming to operate under common law

There have been more than 1000 complaints to the Government about businesses failing to comply with COVID-19 rules.

WorkSafe says it's investigating a number of them - and has already fined two.

But a Golden Bay cafe owner believes he's figured out a way to work outside the law and hires only unvaccinated staff.

A Golden Bay cafe owner says they sit outside of the law because he now operates as a private foundation exempt of Government regulations.

"We're more than a yacht club, or a bowling club or a golf club, we're the loveboat club," says NgaNga, who runs The Mad Cafe.

NgaNga says they're now a private foundation working under what he calls "common law"

"We opted out of the light system, we're not under the Crown, we're a private foundation under natural law, common law," he says.

His Collingwood cafe only hires unvaccinated staff and only welcomes unvaccinated and unswabbed customers.

"It's all about health, health and safety is what we're about," he claims.

He falsely believes the vaccine turns people into 'The Walking Dead', based on his own 'research'.

"For me, it's just my inner knowing… but I do get other references," he says.

NgaNga, who runs The Mad Cafe
NgaNga, who runs The Mad Cafe Photo credit: Newshub

But the Government is not turning a blind eye to businesses like this.

"Some of the sectors that our focus is on at the moment is around hospitality, we are in that Christmas/New Year period when many New Zealanders are travelling so we want to ensure that hospitality are adhering to the new rules," WorkSafe head of general inspectorate Simon Humphries says.

The Mad Cafe is attracting anti-vaccine and anti-mandate customers.

"I think it's wonderful, it's quite refreshing to be here, people are given their own choice," one customer says.

And staff.

"I'm here for NgaNga who is wild and fearless enough to take this on under common law," unvaccinated cafe worker Samantha Blanchard says.

But not all locals agree and his cafe and his stance is dividing the community.

"Everything he's doing is illegal," Tash Donaldson warns. "We want to keep our community safe."

Donaldson, who has a compliant business next door, says The Mad Cafe is pretending to authorities to be a private club but blatantly operating as a cafe, selling food and coffee to the public.

"Most of the community don't want him here, seems quite harsh but before COVID happened he was a good artist and I bought coffee from him every day," Donaldson says.

WorkSafe paid the cafe a visit just before Christmas and will continue to investigate it alongside a number of other businesses across the country. They have a warning to anyone deliberately flouting the rules.

"If you continue to deliberately break the rules then WorkSafe has levers that we can pull such as the infringement notices as we have done in other businesses," Humphries says.

They've fined two businesses under the traffic light system - a gym in Auckland and the White Lotus which was slapped with a $20,000 fine.

If a business won't follow the rules, they need to close or move to takeaway only.