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.

PROHIBITION – New Zealand 2020 (it only took 100 years)

WARNING: Random Rant Ahead.

WOW! I just can’t keep up with the walls closing in on alcohol in New Zealand. On every front alcohol is being attacked. Just small little bites, which by themselves the public seem to be accepting or totally unaware of. If you look at the big picture though things are changing fast, and how long before those in control achieve prohibition in New Zealand.

Prohibition 1920’s read this link.

Prohibition 2020’s the story starts here.

What’s happening out there that you should probably be thinking about:

  • Single Bottle Ban – no more single bottle sales (aimed at Craft Beer?) BOOO!
  • Police patrolling in pubs, potentially with video cameras
  • Seven’s and potentially other public events with alcohol bans
  • No more beer festivals?
  • Increased cost for a license
  • Increasing health warnings on labels

Tonight I was given the heads up about the “single bottle ban” which is part of the the impending Auckland Local Alcohol Policy Not sure whats in it but the preferred position paper gives you a rough idea.  

copsThursday 24th April – I had lunch at Vultures, everyone in the place was having lunch. Two police offices walked in, eye balled everyone, one looked at the license on the wall as the other one walked through including downstairs. They then slowly walked outside the door, and spent some time out there. Jarred went out and had a discussion with them. (I should follow-up to see what it was all about) It was done in a slightly intimidating way, for those in the bar.

That evening we had the Fresh Hop beer release event at the Lumsden. Late in the evening two police offices walked in, eye balled every one and looked at the license on the wall and then hung out in the garden bar for a while. Then walked back through the bar. Then they stood outside the door on Khyber Pass, until the manager went out. Again I don’t have the full story and should follow-up. Exactly the same as Vultures on the same day. Was this specifically aimed at Craft Beer Bars?

This is the first time I have ever experienced police walking through a bar in Auckland. And what was it about that day that I experienced it twice.

I understand that police are now allowed to video tap people that they think are intoxicated?

Seven’s liquor ban. I have a whole blog post drafted on this with statistics. Bottom line, this event brings in $18 million to the local Wellington economy, alcohol sales are down 50% over the last 5 years at the stadium. Everyone has a good time. There is a very small percentage of arrests and injuries, which must happen on an average Friday and Saturday night. Will an alcohol ban at the stadium reduce the harm from alcohol in the city to zero? What is the cost of this to the economy? Is it worth it?

Should alcohol be banned at major sporting events?

Should the police/liquor licensing be allowed to video tap at these public events to record all serving areas and people purchasing alcohol? Are there signs displayed any where notifying the public they are being filmed? What is happening to this footage? Being stored? For how long?

As for alcohol advertising at sporting events check out this post – Let’s make everything like the Rugby Sevens?

Beer Festivals – what are the chances the New Zealand Beer Festival will ever happen again? Seemed like it was luck to even happen this year, and wasn’t much fun with the security and policing. Why was this Auckland Beer Festival under the gun and the Christchurch Beer Festival was such a breeze? One law, multiple interpretations, and levels of enforcement.

Increased costs of holding a license to sell alcohol. Read this article New fees a big cost for some premises

Liquor Licensing Committee chair John Leggett said the new fee system was a result of the passing of the new acts, which was aimed at reducing harm from alcohol.

“As I understand it, one of the driving forces behind the change is the reference to the on and off-licences themselves . . . making sure the industry paid for the cost rather than the ratepayers.”

“As I understand it” doesn’t really sound like he fully understands what he is talking about.

How much were the ratepayers paying before for the cost of a liquor license?

How did they come up with how much each risk category pays?

For a large event with more than 400 people it would now cost $575, a medium event with between 100 and 400 people would cost $207 and a small event with less than 100 people would cost $63.25.

Who came up with these fees for events that need a special license?

Seems like revenue gathering , and the numbers just seem random, and it isn’t clear that they are tied to any costs that ratepayers had previously been covering. Read the article and try to come up with your own conclusion.

Dont Drink if PregnantNew Labelling – changes to our labels. Warnings are now going to be required on beer labels. At the cost to the brewer. The sucky thing is that small brewers have so many different beers and small label runs, and will have a bigger burden to get changes made. Extra cost to make sure pregnant women know they shouldn’t be drinking craft beer.

Did you know there are 1000 liquor ban areas in Auckland?

My vision of the future for Alcohol in New Zealand 2020

  • Every purchase of alcohol you make will be on video. The supermarket, bottle shops, sporting events, bars, restaurants and beer festivals. (actually it already is recorded, on video and on EFTPOS and credit card transactions)

  • Facial Recognition – each purchase will be recorded, the video will have facial recognition software run over it. A database of where you purchased and your financial transaction cross referenced.

  • Standard Drinks. Based on your purchases there will be a record of how many standard drinks you purchase in a week. You will be flagged and categorised in to risk groups. If you are purchasing (therefore drinking) more than recommended guidelines then there will be ramifications. Potentially your insurance company could be informed and your premiums go up, your doctor notified and on your next visit you could be talked to about your potential problem. Or even your employer or spouse?

How far could this all go before they just implement prohibition without anyone pushing back and saying hey that’s not cool. The above technology is available now, and this could already be happening.

Chipping away slowly slowly…

Please tell me I am wrong.

Discussion on Facebook 

UPDATE – 8 May 14
> Looks like the Council have defined it better – so might not be an issue for ‘craft’ after all (or should that be ’boutique’ and ‘handcrafted’)
> ‘Mainstream’ beer isn’t generally sold in single bottles anyway, so shouldn’t be affected.
> Still issues around profiling based on product type rather than the behaviour they are trying to address. Plus puts all the onus on the retailer not the person buying the product…

UPDATE – 10 May 14
I might have been a bit optimistic on the 2020 date, especially after reading

“Nearly 10,000 police computers were running Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system when mainstream support was axed last month, Police Minister Anne Tolley has confirmed.”