NZ restaurant in hot soup over Orchard Rd publicity stunt

Singapore Showbiz

A restaurant from New Zealand is being investigated by police here after staging a haka performance on Orchard Road without a permit. (Photo: Fern & Kiwi Facebook page)

A police investigation -- not the best sort of welcome a new business might hope for, but it's exactly what the owners of New Zealand restaurant Fern & Kiwi are facing shortly after opening in Singapore earlier this month.

Three days before its official debut here on 5 September, staff from Fern & Kiwi's first Singapore outlet staged a flash-mob style "Haka" dance -- the traditional Maori ancestral war cry and dance made popular by the Kiwi All Blacks rugby team -- on Orchard Road.

Watch the restaurant's video of the performance here:

The 90-second video shows how a group of about 20 participants, some shirtless, suddenly break into the haka dance as bemused passers-by watched and filmed.

This may seem a regular enough publicity stunt, not unlike numerous other flash mobs staged by various different companies in the past.

But the Kiwi restaurant which opened its first outlet at Clarke Quay last week did not to obtain a public entertainment licence to stage their chant and dance.

News of the restaurant's troubles has been reported in the New Zealand Herald, the country's leading daily.

According to inSing News, the restaurant's publicist Joseph Barratt said it was a "spur-of-the-moment thing", performed at the height of excitement on the part of its staff.

Its director and spokesperson, Simon Dunlop, also was quoted as saying, "The group felt inspired to...  perform an impromptu welcoming haka on a corner of Orchard Road," after staging a similar showing outside their restaurant premises in Clarke Quay.

A series of tweets posted by Fern & Kiwi's official twitter account seem to point to the Haka performance at Orchard Road being a planned one. (Screengrab: Twitter)

The act seemed slightly more premeditated than they explained, however.

Tweet from the restaurant's official account on 2 September relating to the event described the performance as a "beauty", referring to photographs and a video of the stunt that would be produced later on as well.

A first tweet that appeared to be posted before the event read: "Goods [sic] to see some decent numbers here for the Haka".

Spur of the moment or not, the restaurant's staff were questioned by police in the days following their publicity effort.

Police investigations continue, and the restaurant could face a fine of up to S$10,000, should they be found guilty of flouting the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act, reported inSing News.

Added Dunlop, "We admit we were not clear on local regulations around haka-style performances and are sincerely sorry for any offence caused. We are excited to be here and to embark on what we hope will be a long journey in Singapore."