Get Prepared

Here's what you need to know about alcohol in school and tertiary settings:

Please visit the Young People section to learn more about supplying alcohol to young people under the Minimum Legal Purchase Age (18 years). In particular, visit the following sections: 


The following information has been directly obtained from the New Zealand Police Information Sheet on school balls:

Advice on school balls

The following advice has been compiled from a range of suggestions from both educators and the New Zealand Police.  This is not designed as a definitive list, but as a guide to assist you in your school ball preparations.

School balls themselves are generally very well run. Any problems lie almost exclusively with the pre and after school ball functions.

Supply of alcohol

Schools can discourage the normalisation of alcohol, signalling to students and adults that alcohol is not necessary to have a good time.

However, if alcohol is supplied, schools and parents need to be aware of their obligations under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (2012).

Anyone who supplies alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years commits an offencepunishable by a fine up to $2,000, except if:

  • they are the parent or guardian [1] of the minor; OR
  • they believe on reasonable grounds that they have express consent [2] from the parent or guardian; OR
  • the young person is married, in a civil union or living with a de facto partner.

​​Even in the above exceptions[3], the alcohol may only be supplied to the minor in a responsible manner, for example by taking steps to supervise consumption, providing food, offering low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks, and arranging safe transport[4]

The law basically superimposes host responsibility onto parents, guardians or those with express consent when supplying alcohol.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Justice website:

Before the ball

  • Set a final time to gain admission to the ball, and a time before which no one is able to leave. Consider a later end time to discourage students attending after ball functions.
  • Notify parents of:
    • the date, time and location of the school ball
    • parental responsibility for safe transport – remind them of students adhering to their drivers licence conditions, and the zero alcohol limit for under 20s  
    • that anyone who arrives affected by drugs or alcohol will not be admitted, and their parents called for transport home
    • policy on pre and after ball functions, and the legal obligations (see below).
  • Require parents to sign a permission form before ball tickets can be purchased, including:
    • names of the student and partner
    • contact names and phone numbers to call in an emergency.
  • Advise students:
    • that alcohol and drugs are forbidden
    • that anyone found in possession or under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be admitted or allowed to stay at the ball, and their parents will be called to pick them up
    • that they must adhere to drivers licence conditions, and the zero alcohol limit for under 20s.  

Pre and After Ball Functions

  • We would suggest that you strongly discourage your students and parent communities from holding any pre or after ball functions.
  • But if parents do choose to hold pre or after ball functions, remind them of their obligations around responsible supply of alcohol, the requirement for express consent, and the $2,000 maximum penalty that applies.

On the Night

  • Entry to the ball should be by official ticket only.
  • Have staff greet students and check their sobriety - searching for alcohol at school balls is covered in the Ministry of Education Surrender & Retention of Property guidelines[5].
  • Allocate sufficient staff and parental support to do continual checking of the attendees throughout the course of the ball. Include regular checks of toilet blocks.
  • Provide a supervised chill-out zone for any students who arrive intoxicated/under the influence of drugs, where they will wait until parents/guardians collect them.
  • Cover all requirements according to your school’s health and safety policies.


  • Notify your local Police Station of your intention to hold a school ball, and to discuss your management plans for this event.
  • Note that providing security for your school ball is not a function for Police.  If you require security services they are available through your local security services agencies.

[1] A person is a minor’s guardian only if he or she is a guardian by virtue of the Care of Children Act 2004.

[2] Express consent may include a personal conversation, an email or a text message that you have good reason to believe is genuine. Unless you are certain you have permission from a minor's parent or legal guardian, don't give alcohol to anyone under 18.

[3] The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 also sets out some other less common exceptions.

[4] Other factors that the court may take into account when considering whether the supply was in a responsible manner are set out in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, Section 241(4) 

Health education is one of three subjects in the Health and Physical Education learning area (HPE) of The New Zealand Curriculum that is mandated until the end of Year 10. 

Alcohol and drug education is within the ‘mental health’ key area of learning within HPE.

There are a range of evidence-based alcohol education resources to support education in high school settings in New Zealand.

The most comprehensive is a whole-of-school, evidence-based programme called Tūturu - the Tūturu resources have been developed and evaluated in New Zealand and are freely available to support schools. These include resources to integrate learning across curriculum areas, strengthen pastoral care, consult with communities, and strengthen pastoral care pathways. Contact the NZ Drug Foundation for more information.

Other resources include:

  • Alcohol and other drug education programmes - guide for schools – available here
  • New Zealand Health Education Association Position Statement: Mental health education in The New Zealand Curriculum – available here

We recognise the many competing demands that schools face in the delivery of alcohol education. In relation to external providers, peer reviewed critiques of the resources that underpin the alcohol industry 'Smashed' programme have been published in the New Zealand Medical Journal and are available at:

The practice of the alcohol industry as health educator: a critique

Why are alcohol companies in our schools?