Auckland’s Alcohol Problem

There is so much to read these days about Auckland’s alcohol problem, it is hard to get a sense of what really needs to be done. The media doesn’t help the cause. Media are very to quick cut and paste a story which is sensational, and the police seem to have done a good job getting their message across. And they probably have done a very good job convincing the council members on what they have to do.

The group that seems to be being victimised are the hospitality and retail liquor businesses who employ people and give people a safe and controlled environment to enjoy alcohol.

I have to give a hat tip to Matt Heath today who wrote the best article I’ve seen in this debate so far. It is totally worth a read. It represents the majority, not the minority problem fringe.

NZH Wine PourBooze has been doing Kiwis a favour for yonks

Best quote Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem not a booze problem.”

“The law should punish people who can’t handle their booze and leave the rest of us alone. Most Kiwis are smart enough to drink when they feel like it and cut back when they have things to do. If you are one of the very few who becomes addicted, then seek medical help. Those who get aggressive and commit crimes should stop drinking or pay the price. Simple.”

On a side note: Another observation I made with Matt’s positive article about alcohol, was the image the NZ Herald chose to use. It was wine being poured into a glass. There has been an observed trend now over a several years, where the media will always use an image of beer or beer bottle when reporting a negative story on alcohol. It would seem that since this story is positive you couldn’t possibly use an image of beer. Seems odd they use beer bottles, when many negative articles written are referring to RTD’s. Would make sense to use an image of an RTD bottle?


Then there is this article which tries to represent both sides of the argument in some way

Auckland’s after-hours showdown

(note the photo on this article is “beer”, there is your hint it is going to be negative in some way towards alcohol)

This article comes across as business owners being on the back foot from the council threatening to reduce their conditions to run their business, ultimately affecting their employees.

“McCaw, whose group owns 11 city nightspots, is even more direct. He is, he says, “quite fired up”.

“I honestly believe the safest place to be after midnight in Auckland City is inside a licensed premise – I am absolutely certain of this fact,” he says. The problem is outside – and therefore is the council and police’s problem.

“I find it incredibly difficult that they are laying some of the responsibility for the unsafeness of the streets at the feet of [publicans]…inside is my responsibility, and goddamn it, I take it seriously because if I don’t, I lose my business.”

Actually, given the ratio of bouncers to cops, bar owners are doing more to guard the late-night streets.”


I have recently experienced the council at work with liquor licensing.  A frustrating experience with the amount of time it took Epic Brewing to get an off license for internet sales at our office. We are talking 7 months, plus three visits from people from the council. These visits raised questions like:

“where is your sprinkler system? you need one if you are going to have more than 19 people in this building” – WTF!? we are applying for online sales, there will be no public visiting, let alone 19 people.

“what are your operating hours going to be? how about we put 7am to 7pm?” WTF!? we are selling beer online, from a website. Shouldn’t the website be available 24/7, it’s the internet?

Why did it have to take 7 month to issue an off license to an internet based business, not open to the public, located in industrial Penrose, with no complaints from the public?

It would seem the people involved didn’t have a very good grasp on what was required.


Is the council capable of, or have people competent enough to represent the community to make an informed, common sense, functional Local Alcohol Policy, without being influenced by the powerful, and politically motivated?

The Council represents the community right? Below are a few articles about the community not being happy with the council’s decision regarding a new liquor license and protesting the fact. Seems like common sense should have prevailed when looking at issuing this license for an outlet across from the school. Listen to the people who vote you into power or you will be removed by the people.

Protesters angry liquor outlet allowed opposite school

In Mangere and Otahuhu there are 106 alcohol licences…

…large support from Auckland residents with 91% of residents wanting no increase in the number of liquor stores.

There will also be a reduction in trading hours and outlets would not be allowed to be within 100 metres of sensitive sites such as schools or churches.

Residents oppose liquor store by school

But 10 days later, the licence was granted by the Auckland District Licensing Committee.

“People making these decisions are not from our community. Enough is enough,” Fowler said.

Booze store location near school ‘devastating’

 their off-licence for wine and beer at the grocery store, close the liquor store between 3pm and 4pm on school days and not sell single RTDs (ready to drink spirit-based drinks).

The closest off-licence liquor store is about 1km away.

Crowd of 200 protest against booze shop

A 200-strong crowd of community members and politicians gathered this morning to protest the Auckland District Licensing Committee’s decision last week to approve the Mangere outlet opposite the Southern Cross Campus school.


The big questions for me “are the people in council who are responsible for the Local Alcohol Policy the right people for the job”? Do they have enough common sense? Do they have enough understanding of the businesses that are involved, and do they actually have any first hand experience of the hospitality/liquor retail industry? Are they making decisions based on statistics presented by influential groups with their own agendas, which don’t necessarily meet all the needs of the whole community, but only their own?

I don’t know what the answers is, but I feel that we are still some way off from getting a result that is going to get the best outcome for the community. It’s a shame the silent majority never speak up or act until things have changed and it’s too late. Changing things back is always harder after the fact.

What do you think – Shape Auckland

Local Alcohol Policy – have your say, the deadline is 16th July.

Does High Priced Beer Equal Lower Consumption?

I saw the following links, and it raised the question for me “does a higher price for beer actually reduce consumption”?

The first thing that comes to mind when looking at this infographic is where did the data come from and is it correct for New Zealand (and Australia). The figures below say NZers have the 4th highest spend per capita in the world on beer. But I am sure I have seen our per capita consumption on beer ranked somewhere down near 20th.

This would imply to me that we have very high pricing on beer (due to government excise), even though we aren’t drinking the most in the world. Does the government look at this when taking into account policy for liquor laws in this country?  Is there any set of information or statistics available in this country that a common sense, not political or revenue gathering, decision can be made about alcohol?

World’s cheapest and priciest beers

Nations with the highest per-capita spending on beer

1. Australia, $748
2. Ireland, $688
3. Finland, $566
4. New Zealand, $453
5. Venezuela, $445

Beer Prices Around The World Compared: The Cheapest, Most Expensive And Most Popular Beer Brands

Australians pay the most — $748 annually, thanks to a combination of heavy thirst and heady beer prices.

Price Of Beer




How Many Craft Beer Drinkers in New Zealand?

I have collected a few stats over the last month, and thought maybe I could try to extrapolate how many craft beer drinkers in New Zealand there are.

Population of New Zealand – 4.5 million

under 15 years old – 900,000

% who drink alcohol (15+yo) – 80%

= 2,880,000 people drink alcohol

10% of drinkers drink half the alcohol/beer – 288,000 people

Happy Beer Drinkers - Auckland Beer Festival

Total beer production 290 million litres (sorry I haven’t found the latest figures, but that is pretty close)

This would mean 2,592,000 people would drink 145,000,000 litres of beer. (assumption, no craft beer drinkers are binge drinkers)

Now the difficult part is trying to work out how much of the beer market is craft, and how you define craft beer. If you include Mac’s and Monteith’s then it could be as high as 10% or based on the Brewers Guild of New Zealand estimate it may be as low as 2%.

I will use a figure of 5% which is kind of middle and discounts the some of the Mac’s and Monteith’s volume being their kind of mainstream lager with a craft badge.


7,250,000 million litres of craft beer in New Zealand (produced by 70 craft breweries)

129,600 craft beer drinkers in New Zealand