Popular Ponsonby bar Longroom has taken the bold step of enforcing an R22 age limit, citing primarily the risks to the bars liquor licence due to intoxicated patrons between the ages of 18 and 22. Co-owner Richard Bagnall has defended the move and said that the story, broken by a journalism student from AUT, took an unfair angle which portrayed the bar in a negative, discriminatory light.

“We’ve learnt a lesson from this, and we should have said ‘recommended age’ on the sign,” he said. “It’s not a ban – we haven’t banned anyone from the premises. We have a business and a brand, and we like to protect the business and the brand.”

Bagnall denied accusations that the age limit was about favouring people with more money to spend, and claims that the restriction is loosely enforced.

“If you were with a group of friends who are 23, and you are 21, we wouldn’t turn you away,” he said.

The move has been met with criticism online, but has also been widely praised with older patrons enjoying the new atmosphere. While age restrictions are not uncommon around Auckland (Danny Doolans and QF Tavern in the CBD both impose R20 limits), it is the popularity of Longroom and Ponsonby as a clubbing destination for under-22s that has generated the controversy. Coincidentally, it was less than a week later that Highlife, an entertainment company that hosts an R20 New Year’s party held on Waiheke Island, raised their age restriction to 21 for standard events and has announced that the age limit for the New Year’s party will be even higher.

The Longroom R22 limit is mainly imposed on Fridays and Saturdays, and Bagnall says that the venue is still available for functions where attendees will be under 22.

“If you’re 18 to 22 and you want to come into the venue, we would like you to dress appropriately, and we expect a certain kind of behaviour, and that’s like to be an adult and act responsible, enjoy yourself and have a good time without disrupting others.”