If you are planning to attend the event be prepared to keep a note/photo of any specific alcohol-related incidences.
Inform event organisers and/or attending Police or security of any alcohol-related issues you observe.
A lot of alcohol-related problems go unreported. It is then difficult for anyone to address these in the future. Your reporting of alcohol-related problems can assist authorities in making informed decisions about future events/licences.
If you are not attending the event but the event is impacting on you (e.g. you live near the venue) keep a log of the incidents associated with it. Then report these incidences to the Police and/or local Council.
Check the event details and any alcohol restrictions. If you cannot find these or are concerned about them you can contact the organisers and/or the local council licensing team to discuss your concerns and how these might be addressed.
Make sure that the event has the appropriate licence and alcohol management plan in place.
If the event has been run before and there were alcohol-related problems associated with it, this must be a consideration for the licensing authorities. There might be a case for the enforcement agencies to oppose the licence and/or the District Licensing Committee to refuse to grant a licence or, at the very least, require additional requirements (conditions) on the licence.
Depending of the timing you may wish/be able to object to the licence application, please check out how to object to a liquor licence application.
There are some legal matters you need to be aware of before you plan your event, especially if your event is going to be held on a licensed premises or if you require a licence for the event.
Sale of alcohol to minors & minors on premises
It is illegal for those under 18 years to purchase alcohol or to enter some licensed premises (those premises with a ‘restricted’ designation on their licence, and those with a “supervised” designation if they enter without their legal parent or guardians). There are implications for both the supplier/licensee and the purchaser. Please check the relevant sections of the Act:
Section 239 - Sale or supply of alcohol to people under purchase age on or from licensed premises
Section 240 - Exemptions in respect of licensed premises
Section 243 - Buying of alcohol by people under purchase age
Supply of alcohol to minors
It is also illegal for anyone to supply alcohol to those under 18 years without the express consent of their legal parent or guardian. Any alcohol supplied to those under 18 years must be done so in a responsible manner. Please check the relevant sections of the Act and other section of ActionPoint:
Drink driving limits
The legal alcohol limit for driving is ZERO for those under 20 years and 50mcg/100mls (0.05) of blood for other drivers. If people are driving to your event you must take this into consideration. Click here for more information on drink driving.
Allowing an unlicensed event for people to gather specifically to drink
Place of Resort – It is illegal to allow an unlicensed premises to be used as a place of resort for the consumption of alcohol. Sections 235 and 236 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 outline the offences related to this.
The Police have issued guidance on this - please click here.
For further information, you can read the following legal summary - please click here.
If alcohol is being sold and supplied at a public event a licence will be required. This is usually a special licence. Please also check out the section on Alcohol licensing developed by Health Promotion Agency.
This licence will require the event organisers or the licence holder to have appropriate plans in place to ensure the safe and responsible use of alcohol and the safety of event goers.
Larger events will require a greater level of management and planning. Click on the tool below to learn more.
A licence is not required for private functions where alcohol is supplied by the host or the guests for their own consumption (unless the function is held on a licensed premises). This doesn’t mean that there aren’t responsibilities associated with private functions. Please click here for the relevant section of the Act.
Sometimes events are not licensed but alcohol consumption is still a problem. This is often related to people bringing alcohol to the event, drinking prior to the event or the event’s proximity to other places where drinking is taking place.
Minors at public events where alcohol is sold
Some public events which sell alcohol may be restricted to only those 18 years and over.
Other events may allow minors to attend but with special requirements. Some festivals may also have a minimum age that the minor must be, e.g. one music festival in NZ requires that all attendees are over the age of 15 years.
There must be signage at the event stating that alcohol will not be sold to minors. Security and bar staff should ensure that minors do not enter licensed areas and are not supplied with alcohol from other patrons.
It is possible to make spaces alcohol-free without creating a liquor/alcohol ban or Alcohol Control Bylaw.
Obviously restrictions that are not in a policy or bylaw would not be enforceable by the regulatory authorities. However, the owners of the spaces can still ask that no alcohol is brought into or consumed in the space.
Contact the owners or other people/members responsible for the space and ask them if they have considered making it an alcohol-free area. If you have any evidence of alcohol-related issues take this with you.
If you are a member of a club or group that uses a space put a motion to the committee or group members.
If it is a Council-managed space/venue, ask to address a community safety or similar committee and make a proposal to them.
Seek support from others prior to doing this so that you can demonstrate that this is something that would be valued.
Your local council may already have an Alcohol Control Bylaw currently in place – this means that some parts of your district already have alcohol restrictions for public places. You can check your council’s website or contact them to find out.
If the area of your concern is included in the existing bylaw then you may wish to ask the Council to check the signage and also to ask the Police about monitoring of the area.
This is where an alcohol incident log will come in handy. Share your incident log with the Council.
The information you gather in your community can also be considered by District Licensing Committees when they are considering applications for new and renewals of licences for alcohol outlets in the vicinity. In licensing terms these matters are particularly relevant to the impact of alcohol on the amenity and good order of the locality. Click here to read our section on Licensing
If the public place you are concerned about is not included in the current bylaw then you can request that it is.
Contact your local council’s policy team who will be able to advise you on how to do this and what they require from you. Information on alcohol policies and bylaws can usually be found on the Council’s website.
Talk with your neighbours, local schools, Marae, sports clubs etc, and ask them about any concerns they have. Ask if they would support a request for an alcohol ban in the area.
You can contact your local councillor or Local/Community board member/s to discuss your concerns. You may wish do this in person and/or to put this in writing. This will allow you to gather their support for the alcohol ban. They might consider holding a public meeting to discuss concerns.
Host a neighbourhood meeting to discuss the issues and support for different options.
If you have a Neighbourhood Support group, Residents Association, or other similar group active in your area make contact with them. If not, you might like to start a group.
Make a submission – if there is an Alcohol Control Bylaw consultation occurring in your district then you can make a submission to the Council.
Circulate a flyer, social media post, etc to your friends and neighbours advising them of the consultation process and encourage them to make a submission as well. Don’t forget to tell them when the deadline for submissions is. You can send them a template or link them to this site if they need assistance.
It may be appropriate to speak to local media to highlight the problems and generate wider consideration of these, please visit the Communications section.
It will be helpful if you, and any of your neighbours who are concerned about the problem, gather as much information as you can.
Such information includes:
- date and time of any incident(s)
- any details of the incident – describing what happened and where, and especially how you know it is related to alcohol
- what action you have taken
- any other information that you think would assist a response
Keeping an accurate log of any alcohol-related incidents can also assist you in taking action.
- Distribute an alcohol incident log to your neighbours and ask them to record any incidents that they observe.
Report any incidents to the appropriate authority – this is generally the Police. It can be useful to inform the local Council as well, particularly if the problems are related to noise, graffiti and other vandalism.
Make sure everyone logs the incident/s as alcohol-related and maintain your records. These will come in handy if you need to make an objection to a licence application or a submission on alcohol control bylaw or Local Alcohol Policy
If you personally know the people causing the problems and feel confident approaching them, you may discuss the problem. Choose a time when the situation is calm. You can make them aware of the impact their behaviour has on you and others.
Prohibiting single sales of alcohol products from off-licences
- Some stores break up packages of alcohol and sell the individual units. This practice is sometimes referred to as “single sales”.
- Communities often find that this makes alcohol particular accessible to young and other vulnerable people.
- There is international evidence showing that selling single serves results in increased harm to young people. For this reason, many jurisdictions (particularly in the United States) ban single sales.
- New Zealand law does not prohibit single sales.
- Restricting single sales in New Zealand would mean that many young people would be unable to purchase a single RTD at a low cost. Click here for taking action on single sales.
Reducing the number of liquor outlets in a community
- The density of liquor outlets can also have an effect on pricing and promotions.
- When there are a high number of outlets, increased competition among retailers can result in lower prices.
- Reducing the number of outlets in a community may have an effect of raising the overall price. Click here for taking action to reduce the density of alcohol outlets in your community.
A Minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy can be used to increase the price of alcohol of the cheapest alcohol products in New Zealand. A MUP sets the minimum/lowest/floor price at which a standard drink of alcohol can be sold.
For example, if a minimum unit price of $1.40 per standard drink was implemented, it would mean that:
- a twelve pack of (7%ABV) RTDs (containing 21.9 standard drinks) could not be sold below $30.62 (compared with a current price of $24.99),
- a bottle of wine (containing 8 standard drinks) could not be sold below $11.18 (compared with a current price of $6.79).
Although a minimum unit price per standard drink would apply equally to on- and off-licences, price increases would generally be seen at off-licences. This is where the majority of cheap alcohol is sold.
There are significant cost savings estimated from implementing Minimum Unit Pricing, although not as great as savings arising from excise tax increases.
A MUP policy can only address the cheapest products. Therefore, it has the biggest effect on harmful drinkers who prefer the cheap products. To reduce consumption across the whole of New Zealand, we also need to increase excise taxes.
In 2014, the Ministry of Justice investigated a MUP policy. At the time a decision was made to wait five years, until 2019, when this matter would be looked at again. It was envisaged that this was sufficient time to examine the progress of the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
Alcohol is subject to an excise tax. To learn more about excise taxes, click here.
The amount of excise tax varies by beverage type and alcohol volume in the beverage. Click here for the current excise rates in New Zealand.
The money collected by the Government from alcohol excise taxes goes into the wider pool of Government funds. Taxes are not tagged to any initiatives to reduce alcohol harm.
Alcohol is also subject to a special levy. This goes to the Health Promotion Agency to support their alcohol programme of work.
Excise tax increases are not always passed on to the consumer - sometimes the industry absorbs some of the increased costs.
Increases in excise taxes could generate significant revenue for the Government as well as result in significant cost savings from reduced alcohol-related harm.
In 2014, the Ministry of Justice examined the benefits of increases in excise taxes. The report noted that the matter would not be looked at again until 2019.