The White Lady and Auckland Council

Setting the record straight

Last Updated : 07 Sep 2022
Queen Street

Update 19 September 2022 | New license issued to The White Lady

Today, Auckland Council has re-issued a 12-month street trading license to The White Lady.

Two new conditions have been included in the new license to ensure that any disruption to surrounding businesses is minimised:

  • The licensee must implement measures to manage customers so that they do not obstruct the footpath.
  • The licensee must implement measures to minimise access to neighbouring businesses or properties from being blocked by customers.

The bylaw associated with the licence is here. Clause 13 outlines conditions that may be imposed.

“We worked closely with The White Lady team to get to this point, and we’re really pleased with the improvements they’ve made,” says General Manager Licensing and Regulatory Compliance Mervyn Chetty. 

“We do ask that The White Lady customers keep doing their bit to help the team, by using the rubbish bins provided and being mindful to not block footpaths and entrance ways of surrounding businesses.”


Update 7 September 2022 | New license to be issued later this month

Earlier this year while considering licence renewal, Auckland Council highlighted some opportunities for The White Lady to adjust its operations, and that extending its licence to the end of September, allowed it time to do so. (Read more in the original story below).

“We’re heartened by the progress that the team at The White Lady has made. We’re monitoring the last of their adjustments over the next few weeks and will be in a position to grant a 12-month licence later this month.

“The main areas that present challenges for The White Lady, and are integral to a successful licence, are queue, footpath obstruction and litter management," says General Manager Licensing and Regulatory Compliance Mervyn Chetty. 

“The White Lady is part of a vibrant city centre where more people live, work and visit than ever before and we are, together, trying to get the balance right for the most effective ongoing licence arrangements.

“Perhaps this is also a good time to make a call to The White Lady’s loyal customers – you can help by using the bins provided, being considerate when queuing or congregating on the street, and let the team know if there’s anything that needs their attention,” says Mervyn.


The following piece was published on 5 July 2022.

Auckland Council’s Director of Regulatory Services Craig Hobbs comments on a licence renewal process that has become a topic of public discussion where facts have become confused by assumptions and unfounded concerns.

The White Lady is a cultural icon in Auckland’s city centre; it is part of the fabric of inner-city evenings (and early mornings!). Its patrons can sometimes be messy and disruptive. The council is working with the business owner to find a way to renew the trading licence and keep everyone happy and safe.

These are three simple facts that have recently snowballed into suggesting that the council should ignore its own rules and not address complaints from businesses and residents, as well as denigrating a hard-working team of compliance officers whose job is to ensure our legal and regulatory obligations are met.  This is coupled with the fact that our city centre is growing and changing, with more residents and an increasingly diverse array of businesses.

We want The White Lady to stay in its familiar spot on Commerce Street. We want Mr Washer’s family business to continue providing sustenance for city visitors and vibrancy to our city centre for many more years to come. And we want the other businesses in the area to be able to operate in harmony with The White Lady.

We don’t want the street awash with rubbish or the many people that live and work in the city centre choked out with the fumes and vapours of a busy night on the grills and fryers.

Our team has been working with Mr Washer to address complaints received and operate a compliant business. We’re trying new options and observing how they are working. We know it’s not easy running a business right now, the labour market is stretched and the pandemic has thrown up numerous other challenges and uncertainties. That is why we’ve extended the current licence – to allow time to give Mr Washer and his team a chance to get this right.

It is frustrating when our own team goes out at night and sees patrons blocking footpaths and entrances to other premises. When food truck’s bins go unemptied or food wrappers litter the street. When neighbours complain of smells and noise.

Some of this can be put down to the trappings of inner city life on a busy night but there is a tipping point. As our city centre grows and changes, we have to ensure we’ve made the right provisions to manage, or mitigate, as many needs as possible.

So, we will continue to work with The White Lady to find that happy medium. We will make sure that we apply the same rules that we expect others to follow. And we will make allowances where we can.

Trading in public places and The White Lady

  • Like all other businesses that operate in public spaces, The White Lady runs under a mobile trading licence.
  • One of the conditions of this licence is that: The trader shall keep the area around the trading operation in a neat and tidy condition, free from litter and provide adequate and suitable litter receptacles for the use of patrons. The licence holder is responsible for ensuring their litter and waste is disposed of correctly. Public rubbish bins are not to be used and liquid waste is not to be tipped down public drains.  The operator is also required to clean up and take their refuse with them.  
  • In late 2020, discussions about moving The White Lady to another location began, following feedback from a nearby residential building.
  • This coincided with temporary changes to public transport parking (bus layovers) on Commerce Street, as a result of wider works in the downtown area.
  • Further adjustments were made to the parking location during 2021, in consultation with The White Lady, AT and business/building owners on the street.
  • In January 2022, as Aucklanders started to venture out more again following ongoing lockdowns, the council received complaints from other businessowners.
  • In order to work through some of the challenges experienced by both The White Lady and surrounding businesses, the council extended the operator’s licence (which was due to expire on 30 April 2022) to allow time to come up with solutions and test their effectiveness.
  • The licence has been extended for a second time, to 30 September 2022, as the council and The White Lady recognise that more time is needed to troubleshoot some of the more difficult challenges around litter and queuing.
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