Anjula Manga with her 6-week-old baby who is yet to be
named. Photo: NZ Herald/Dean Purcell
The managers of a mall where a woman was told she could
not breastfeed have apologised to the mother-of-three, saying
it was an error of judgment.
Anjula Manga was shocked when she was approached by a cleaner
at Hamilton's Te Awa at The Base and told she could not
breastfeed her 6-week-old daughter in the foodcourt.
But after a Facebook post on the incident went viral Miss
Manga received an apology, both online and over the phone.
Miss Manga was having lunch at the mall foodcourt on Sunday
with her daughters Naketah, 8, Lita, 18 months, and her
un-named infant when a cleaner asked her to stop
"I said to her 'Are you for real?'."
She said she was breastfeeding as discreetly as possible,
using a blanket to cover her breast while her baby latched
However, the cleaner directed Miss Manga to a parents' room
in the toilets opposite the foodcourt.
"I said to her, 'I'm not packing my kids away and making them
eat in the toilet'."
The 31-year-old Aucklander said she was so embarrassed she
pulled her baby from the breast and tried to calm her with a
pacifier when she began crying.
When her mother, Sue Manga, returned from shopping Miss Manga
explained what had happened.
"She said 'No, that's illegal'."
Mrs Manga told the cleaner it was her daughter's right to
breastfeed in public and the pair were told the rule was in
the Te Awa "handbook". The two women took their concerns to
the information desk in the mall before Miss Manga posted
details of the incident on her mother's Facebook page on
The post attracted hundreds of comments and was shared more
than 2100 times.
On Tuesday Te Awa marketing manager Angela Young rang Miss
Manga to apologise and posted a response on the mall's
It said The Base Centre management did not have a policy
restricting mothers from breast or bottlefeeding their
children in any part of the mall.
"We recognise our customers' human rights to raise their
children in the best practice they see fit.
"We provide excellent facilities for breastfeeding mothers.
However, we do not restrict them to one particular area."
Mike Pohio, chief executive of Tainui Group Holdings - which
owns The Base - said there was no policy banning
breastfeeding in the mall's handbook.
He said the contracted staff member made a mistake and the
incident had been an error of judgment.
"We've apologised and that shouldn't have happened."
But Miss Manga felt the issue was unresolved. "My 8-year-old
doesn't want to go anywhere with me in the holidays because
she's scared that her baby sister is going to need to be fed
... and she doesn't want that shame and humiliation again."