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'Not punk rock': Music venue called out by landlord over vax passes

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Apr 2022, 2:58pm
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'Not punk rock': Music venue called out by landlord over vax passes

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Apr 2022, 2:58pm

An Auckland music venue has been called out by its landlord for still requiring patrons to show vaccine passes. 

Whammy Bar, on Auckland's Karangahape Rd, first heard about its landlord Paul Reid's views when he left a negative review on the bar's Facebook page – and the owners say he shouldn't be airing "dirty laundry" in public. 

Vaccine passes no longer need to be provided at hospitality venues after the Government made changes to the traffic light system, but some venues are still using them. 

Reid, posting from a personal account, wrote: "This used to be a cool punk rock dive bar..you know punk anti-establishment cool kinda vibe.. now there's nothing more punk rock than 'can I scan your vaccine pass please' lol [sic]." 

Reid's post was not the first the bar has received since it went public with its decision, with others labelling it as "apartheid". 

But Reid's comments were swiftly followed by a flood of replies supporting the bar and criticising Reid for leaving his comments in a public review. 

"Hang on one second... aren't you their F***ING LANDLORD?" one incredulous supporter wrote. 

"You don't have to agree with the entry policy, but jeezus f***ing christ... what a chicken s*** way to shaft them." 

Reid's comments were called out by Whammy's supporters. Photo / Supplied 

'Yes I am and I've personally given them $60,000 in rent relief to help keep them alive through Covid," Reid replied. 

"And then when they are allowed to open and get back to business are shafting themselves by excluding members of their own community into their venue." 

Others labelled Reid, who once performed with pop-punk group Rubicon and appeared on TV show Shortland Street, as a "disgrace". 

"Yeah I'm the disgrace that gave them a 10 year lease," Reid bit back. 

"And I'm the disgrace that wrote off $60,000 in rent owed that's me." 

"I'm not anti science I'm not anti anything," Reid added. 

"Just think it's a pretty poor business move from Whammy that's all. And very un anti-establishment." 

Reid's comment drew the attention of Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick. 

Whammy Bar co-owner Lucy Macrae said she woke up to see the social media storm this morning and that Reid's views were news to her. 

Macrae confirmed that Reid had agreed to $60,000 worth of rent relief during Covid lockdowns, based on a clause in the lease. 

She said Reid could have gone about sharing his opinion in a better way and said they would have been open to a discussion with him, but defended their decision to ask for vaccine passes. 

She said the bar was taking the "temporary measure" to keep staff and customers safe while Covid numbers remained high. 

"We do know our own business and we know our clientele. We've made this decision based on that so to have somebody, for all intents and purposes, from the outside coming in questioning those business decisions like we hadn't thought about it is wild." 

She said his decision to discuss their financial arrangements was unprofessional and agreed with comments that suggested Reid should not be airing "dirty laundry". 

As far as Reid's claim that the decision damaged Whammy's punk credentials, Macrae said they were a diverse venue but the owners came from a punk rock background and were sticking to their values of keeping the community safe. 

Paul Reid in his Rubicon days (L) and more recently (R). Photo / Supplied 

Reid told the Herald that he stood by his comments but made it clear that Whammy was free to run its own business how it sees fit. 

"I just thought it was ironic that a formerly punk rock venue, which used to be so anti-establishment and anti-government, is clinging so religiously to this kind of government mode of social exclusion," he told the Herald. 

"I thought punk was more about diversity, inclusivity and looking after one another." 

In reference to the marked criticism he has faced, Reid accepted that "nobody likes the landlord, I get that, it's not very punk". 

"But when you've single-handedly helped navigate many Auckland central businesses, which I have, who would otherwise go broke due to them not receiving enough government support, it's sad to see some of the tenants make such polarising decisions." 

He conceded that Whammy did know its own community but thought the decision was "ironic". 

"They're promoting ethics of inclusiveness and acceptance but it seems to not apply when it comes to somebody deciding not to stick a needle into their arm." 

He said anyone who disagreed with his opinion should, instead of attacking him personally, head to Whammy and enjoy one of their great live shows. 

- by Chris Marriner, NZ Herald

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