A Project of South Island Public Health Partnership
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Our commitment to improving health and reducing alcohol-related harm in
Te Waipounamu South Island

Through working together on alcohol harm reduction strategies we can help build healthier and happier South Island communities. You have received this newsletter because you are part of an organisation committed to improving the health of Te Waipounamu (South Island) residents.

This bulletin is from the South Island Public Health Partnership (a collaboration of the three Public Health Units (Nelson Marlborough, Community and Public Health, Public Health South) covering the five DHBs in the South Island (through the South Island Alliance).  This newsletter comprises some examples of how DHBs have acted to reduce alcohol harm over the past year, and how they have achieved this through collaborating with agencies like the police and the district councils who also work to protect community wellbeing.

The process of collaborating with other groups is like the Māori process of raranga, or weaving, as when we weave together our knowledge we can create a beautiful maiaorere. A maiaorere is a woven Māori cloak which has great value, made to be a taonga tuku iho; an heirloom to be passed down to future generations. Working together on alcohol harm reduction is similar to raranga/weaving a maiaorere; through combining our resources we can create a cloak of protection to safeguard the health and well-being of our mokopuna.


  • Why Our Drinking is a Problem
  • Southern DHB; working smarter
  • South Canterbury DHB; forming strong community relationships  
  • Nelson Marlborough DHB; working closely with allies
  • Canterbury DHB; developing cost-effective solutions
  • West Coast DHB; promoting positive alcohol messages
  • 2012 Liquor Act
  • A Year in Review
  • The Experts Perspective

Why our drinking is a problem

  • 600 to 1000 New Zealanders die annually from alcohol-related causes
  • The average New Zealander spends $1000 a year on alcohol
  • 1 in 5 NZ drinkers has a potentially hazardous drinking pattern
  • Half of serious violent crimes are related to alcohol
  • It costs the Health System; CDHB spend an estimated $56 million on alcohol-related in-patient admissions annually ($100 million is the estimated overall cost)
  • The beneficial health effects of alcohol are controversial and are far outweighed by the detrimental effects of alcohol on disease and injury 
Is your drinking okay? Take this quiz to find out.

Low Risk Drinking Advice For Adults

Southern DHB

Working smarter; sharing resources and prioritising risk
Public Health South, Invercargill,  have collaborated with police and other agencies to grow projects such as ‘DrinkSafe’, where hospitality members are up-skilled on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. Hospitality staff are taught host responsibility, fire evacuation plans, licence restrictions and crime prevention, and practical ways to help reduce intoxication, through environmental design, alcohol management plans etc. These projects have helped bars to provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for patrons, and a higher level of protection against alcohol-related harm in our communities.

However, Southern DHB’s largest and most successful project has been SEAL; Southern Enforcement Alcohol Liason. SEAL is a partnership between Police, Health and District Licencing Committees, where all monitoring / enforcement /crime incidence registrations  /managers certificates are held and shared between the partnerships so they can all have better insight on the premises (high, medium or low risk), and thus collaboratively work with and monitor those at higher risks to reduce the risk/harms. Southern DHBs Lynn Grace said that this has been working “very well, with two premises changing from high to low risk over just one week, through talking with, and informing, staff and managers”. Thus, there are good results for health, crime and the business’s profits through various organisations collaborating together for the best results.
Working collaboratively with special licensing, they have dramatically decreased the alcohol related harm at an 8,000-strong rodeo competition. Through meeting with the managers and discussing protocols that could be initiated to make a more enjoyable event the organisers decided to not allowing BYO’s, reduce the bar area by 4/5’s, and only allowed alcohol to be consumed inside the bar. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in alcohol-related harm at the event, and has set a precedent for decreasing harm levels at future community events.

South Canterbury DHB

Forming strong relationships with community
Community and Public Health, South Canterbury, have had progress this year in alcohol harm reduction, through working closely with the three alcohol accords. These accords have allowed members of the Tri-agency a face to face relationship with publicans. Teaching a competitive industry the strengths of unity, by excluding difficult and violent patrons through group trespass notices from high risk establishments has been beneficial.

The other area the tri-agency has had an influence in is special licences. The importance of monitoring events and discussing improvements with organiser’s is imperative. An example is the Winchester Rodeo (see above image), where the organisers have dramatically reduced alcohol related harm. Through consultation, the organisers decided to not allow BYO’s, reduce the bar area by 4/5’s, and only allow alcohol to be consumed inside the bar. Shayne Broughton from C&PH said that “taking the time to consult- not enforcing at the event, but working with the organisers has resulted in a dramatic reduction in alcohol-related harm at the special events, and in the community as a whole".
Responding to the community and working with the Police and Council Liquor Licensing Inspectors, in a tri-agency, has resulted in a dramatic reduction in alcohol-related harm at the event, and has set a precedent for decreased alcohol-related harm levels at future community events.

Nelson/Marlborough DHB

A cord of many strands is not easily broken;
Working closely with allies towards mutual goals

The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Unit have been working collaboratively with their community and the District Council to develop a Local Alcohol Policy that helps reduce alcohol-related harm. The Tasman District Council was one of the first in Aotearoa to develop their own Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) when the new legislation allowed, which they did after consultation with the community on what were the key issues around liquor licensing to include in an LAP.

After assessing health, crime, and other benefits, and a community consultation with a 75% agreement rate, Tasman District Council (TDC) chose to advocate for a policy that included, among other things, that all on-licenses were to be closed by 2 am (Off licenses by 10 pm). The 2 am closing of on licences in the Draft LAP was opposed by Hospitality NZ (HANZ) who wanted the bars open till 3 am. The LAP was appealed to the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA). This was the first appeal under the new legislation and was important in helping define certain aspects of the law. NMDHB and the Police supported TDC in the court case, responding to the opposition by HANZ. Graham Caradus (TDCs environmental health coordinator and chief licensing inspector) said the reduction of alcohol-based harm in the community was a “reasonable long-term expectation” through earlier closings of bars and night-clubs, and that “the council’s Local Alcohol Policy seeks to minimise that [alcohol related] harm”.
The DHB, District Council and Police's combined effort and common goals of community protection resulted in a court ruling that a of 2 am closing times was not unreasonable in the light of the object of the act and the appeal was dismissed. The result will be a safer environment for the Tasman district community and a powerful precedent for the rest of NZ. 

More information on the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act 2012 and Local Alcohol Policies

The Sale and Supply of Liquor Act 2012

 What you need to know

The main aim of the Act is to improve New Zealand's drinking culture and reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking through giving communities more control over the sale and supply of alcohol in their area.
The measures included allow communities to:
  • participate in decision-making by having local councilors and community members decide most licence and managers certificate applications
  • object to licence applications on more grounds
  • introduce legally enforceable local alcohol policies  
The new Act gives councils the power to make alcohol control bylaws covering areas such as school grounds, private car parks and other private spaces that the public has legitimate access to. It also allows communities to:
  • limit the location of licences in particular areas or near certain types of facilities, such as in specific neighbourhoods or near schools or churches
  • limit the density of licences by specifying whether new licences or types of licences should be issued in a particular area
  • impose conditions on groups of licences, such as a ‘one-way door’ condition that would allow patrons to leave premises but not enter or re-enter after a certain time
  • restrict or extend the maximum opening hours set in the new Act.

Canterbury DHB

Developing targeted and cost-effective solutions based on good evidence
Canterbury’s Community and Public Health has been taking many positive steps toward decreasing alcohol harm, including Christchurch’s Draft Local Alcohol Policy, which reflects the need to reduce access to cheap alcohol, reduce late night drinking in suburban areas and bring late night revelers in to one manageable part of the City. The DHBs close relationship with the local police and the licensing team at Christchurch City Council (CCC), and this has been strengthened through weekly meetings and information sharing in order to plan and resource various interventions effectively.

Canterbury is also involved in a unique data-collection initiative, which gives them a more detailed analysis of the distribution of alcohol-related harm across Canterbury. Stuart Dodd, Alcohol Harm Minimisation Officer from CDHB, thinks that it will “help us develop more targeted and thereby, cost effective solutions to reduce alcohol-related harm”. This includes identifying where more concentrated populations of problem drinkers live, and give a clearer picture of the depth of the problem. For example, despite there being a significant decrease in yearly hospital admissions throughout most areas of the hospital, the data project has identified that alcohol related admissions are increasing, by 7% annually. With this information, Canterbury can make a strong case for investment into reducing alcohol-related harm, and therefore hospital admissions, that will ultimately reduce costs across the Canterbury health system. Data collected can be shared between areas, such as to the Police the City Council and the Licensing Authorities, to bring about changes to target the root causes of binge-drinking.
One of the delicacies available at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival

West Coast DHB

Promoting Positive Alcohol Messages- Good Memories, No Regrets
Community and Public Health (C&PH), West Coast have especially focused throughout the year on decreasing alcohol harm at public events. One example was enhanced alcohol monitoring at the 2014 Hokitika Wildfoods festival, alongside the Police, the Westland District Council liquor licensing inspector, and security and festival organisers. Before the event they ran a controlled purchase operation that showed all local bars or on-licenses were complying in not selling minors alcohol, a first for the area.  During the event, as levels of intoxication in the crowd increased, alcohol supply was limited and drunkenness reduced.

C&PH health promoters worked again with the police to ensure the Kumara Race Day was fun and safe for race goers. Leading up to the event ‘Good Memories, No Regrets’ messages were advertised via radio advertisements, with health-promoting posters at the race course, and health messages shared over public announcements all day. 1000 bottles of water were provided to race-goers, aimed at those aged 16-30. The bottles of water had safe drinking /safe sex messages attached, designed to raise awareness around STD’s. As there is a direct correlation between risky drinking and unsafe sex, drinking water is one way to reduce the effects of alcohol consumption. These efforts resulted in safer community events on the West Coast.

A Year In Review

New Trading Hours

Since the 18th of December 2013 the default trading hours applying to business’s selling alcohol changed as follows; 8am-4am for on-licenses (Bars, clubs etc.), and 7am-11pm for off-licenses (bottle stores, supermarkets etc). Through consultation, territorial authorities can introduce Local Alcohol Policies can change the default hours and allow the community to have a say about their trading hours, but consultees can appeal policies they do not like.

Grocery stores, dairies and convenience stores

Grocery stores that mainly sell food products may sell alcohol if they have an off-licence permit, but dairies and convenience stores (categorised by selling mainly confectionery, snack food and ‘ready-to-eat takeaways) will not be able to renew a liquor license.

Not your kid? Not your call

The new law puts more limits on young people accessing alcohol, places more responsibility on those who provide alcohol to them, and gives parents more control. You can only supply a person under 18 if; you are their parent/legal guardian, if you have express consent from their parent/legal guardian, or if the young person is married or living with a de facto partner. Express consent may include a personal conversation, an e-mail or text message that you believe is genuine. The breaching penalty is a $2,000 fine. There is also a law that anyone supplying an under 18 with alcohol must do so responsibly, such as ensuring food and non-alcoholic drinks are available, there is safe transport arranged, and the drinking amount and strength is supervised.

Alcohol Driving Limits Lowered

The new Land Transport Amendment Act lowers the breath alcohol limit for adult drivers (20 years and over) from 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, to 250 micrograms. The blood alcohol limit will reduce from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg. The zero limit for drivers under the age of 20 remains the same. The advice from police is not to drink at all before driving to avoid a penalty. 
The Experts Opinions
In response to: What more would you like to see done to reduce alcohol-related harm?

Please note that these views do not necessarily represent the views of the individual’s District Health Board/Public Health Unit.
  • More people driving public health work, and mobilising it from the ground up 
    (Anne McSoriley, Southern DHB, Team Leader Settings and Lifestyles, Public Health Services)
  • Annual increases of taxes on alcohol, as we do with cigarettes; also, an increased drinking age (to 20), reducing off-licenses, and more weight to health professionals opinions in discussions
    (Shayne Broughton, South Canterbury DHB, Health Promoter/Liquor Licensing, Community and Public Health)
  • Communities more informed about the social supply of alcohol, such as ‘expressed consent’ when supplying minors
    (Lynn Grace, Southern DHB)
  • Good indicators developed around alcohol related harm, so we can measure what’s occurring and the health impacts various initiatives have over time, so we can see what the real problem is and the best way to solve it. 
    (Ed Kiddle, Nelson Marlborough DHB, Medical Officer of Health)
  • More focus on the causes of alcohol harm; decreasing availability, prices, changing marketing/advertising  so society does not indoctrinate children into viewing alcohol as a cool, sexy, lifestyle product.  
    (Stuart Dodd, Canterbury DHB, Alcohol Harm Minimisation Coordinator)
This bulletin was composed by Danielle Browne, a fourth year Health Policy Student from the University of Canterbury, working as a summer intern in South Island Alliance, with Rachel Eyre, Project Facilitator for South Island Public Health Partnership (a workstream of the South Island Alliance). For further information about the work of the South Island Public Health Partnership, including their work on alcohol, please contact Rachel Eyre at
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