Drinking in the past year

In 2019/20, 4 in every 5 New Zealand adults (81.5%) drank alcohol in the past year. This equates to 3,263,00 adults aged 15 years or over. 

More males (84.6%) than females (78.5%) reported drinking in the past year. Click here to see the full results from the large New Zealand Health Survey.


Comparison between subgroups (adjusted by age/sex /ethnic group)

The 2019/20 New Zealand Health Survey found that:

  • Men were 8% more likely to drink than women
  • Māori (total) were 2% more likely to drink than non-Māori
  • Māori men were 2% more likely to drink than non-Māori men
  • Māori women were 3% more likely to drink than non-Māori women
  • Pacific people (total) were 24% less likely to drink than non-Pacific people
    • Pacific men 16% less likely, and
    • Pacific women 30% less likely
  • Asian people (total) were significantly 27% less likely to drink than non-Asian people (total)
    • Asian men 18% less likely,
    • and Asian females 37% less likely
  • Men/women living in the most deprived neighbourhoods were significantly less likely to drink than men/women living in the least deprived neighbourhoods

Changes in past-year drinking over time

Past-year drinking in the total New Zealand adult population significantly decreased between 2006/07 and 2011/12, stabilised until 2017/18, and then significantly increased between 2017/18 and 2018/19. In 2019/20, there was no significant change in the overall prevalence of past-year drinking since last year, but it was significantly higher than in 2014/15.


In 2019/20, significant increases in past-year drinking were found among:

  • Total women – significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12 and 2014/15
  • 45-54 year olds – significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2014/15 and 2018/19
  • 75+ yrs – significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12 and 2014/15
  • Māori men – significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12
  • Māori women – significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12
  • Pacific women - significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12 and 2014/15
  • Asian women – significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12 and 2014/15
  • European/other women - significantly higher in 2019/20 compared to 2011/12 and 2014/15

DATASET: NZ HEALTH SURVEY 2019/20 GRAPHS: PAST-YEAR DRINKING SUBSET