Case Study

Amplifying the Māori voice in liquor licensing and reducing the harm from alcohol at Rapaki Marae in Ōtautahi

Christina Henderson - Community & Public Health, Christchurch

What issue did you act on?

Rapaki host a monthly whanau meeting to keep whanau up to date with the latest news and information. At this hui, a whanau member stood up and talked about their family being broken because of issues with alcohol and drugs and asked for help.

How did you act?

I approached our alcohol health promoter at Community and Public Health about the issue of alcohol in general and what we could do to help our community. It was apparent from our discussions and from what I could see in my community that the issues were environmental, for example the location of bottle stores next door and across the road from sensitive locations such as Māori Youth Justice and alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities. The District Licensing Committee (DLC) in Christchurch also lacks diversity, having no Māori or Pacific voice.  Their decisions are based wholly on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, without considering the needs of the community. We wanted to get Māori more involved in liquor licensing processes in Christchurch. To address these issues, we carried out several actions:

  • We worked in collaboration with Community Law and the Māori wardens to support community members to have a voice in submissions against liquor licences and renewals.
  • We supported a Māori person in our community to apply for a place on the District Licensing Committee. This was to address the lack of diversity and have someone who was community oriented and could apply a hapu perspective to local decision making. Unfortunately, their application was unsuccessful, but we will continue to push for increasing the diversity on the DLC.
  • We have an alcohol-free policy for our Marae; however, we need more than this to support our community. Drinking alcohol does not usually take place on our Marae apart from during special occasions. The problems are in our community so that’s why we are trying to improve the environmental factors that influence alcohol consumption to make a difference.

What worked well?

  • Working in partnership with Community Law – they helped with tips/templates/submissions in English and Te Reo. Community Law have been helpful with getting Māori involved and guiding our people through the process of making submissions.
  • Working in partnership with Māori wardens.
  • Our Marae was alcohol-free in principle, however when we inserted an alcohol and other drug policy it made the world of difference. It adds reinforcement to whanau members as the policy has been passed at the Marae Executive table. Whānau are made aware of the policy and the expectations that they heed the policy at the Runaka monthly meeting and since this has been happening whānau have been supportive.

What did not work well?

  • The DLC basing their decisions around the Act rather than on community needs.

Top tips for others we learnt from this experience

  • Work as a collective.
  • Have confident communication.
  • When working with Māori organisations communicate face-to-face where you can to build a good relationship and get buy in to your project.
  • Be involved in the whole process.
  • Get behind the community you are working with so you can give them a nudge to get involved.
  • Make things simple for communities – provide them with up-to-date knowledge in ways they can understand.
  • Have champions in your community to help with what you are trying to achieve e.g. Māori wardens, whānau ora navigators.

What’s next for this project?

  • We are working on an evaluation which is ongoing that is looking at how we can amplify the Māori voice.
  • We want to get more preventative with our approach and continue to operate a whānau ora perspective.

Helpful links

Rapaki Marae’s Alcohol and Other Drug Policy: Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm Minimisation Policy Rapaki Marae.docx

Rapaki Marae’s Alcohol Management Plan: Marae Waipiro Management Plan.docx

PDF version: Amplifying the Māori voice in liquor licensing and reducing the harm from alcohol at Rapaki Marae in Ōtautahi.