Hāpai Te Hauora and Alcohol Healthwatch are applauding the decision by a bottle store applicant in Takanini, South Auckland, not to proceed with their application to open a new bottle store in the neighbourhood. Had the bottle store gone ahead it would have increased the number of off-licences in the community to five.
The new bottle store application was opposed by the Police, Auckland Regional Public Health Service and Auckland Council Liquor Licensing. Four community objections were also lodged by the New Zealand Māori Council, Communities Against Alcohol Harm, Alcohol Healthwatch and a local community member.
Lance Norman, Chief Executive of Māori Public Health Provider Hāpai Te Hauora, was excited to hear the news. "Our communities don’t want another bottle store down the street. There are already four other off-licences within a 6-minute walk and a total of eight within a 6-minute drive. This new outlet would have been near a number of schools, early childcare and medical facilities. Our communities don’t need this. Enough is enough. Finally, the voices of our people are being heard."
Alcohol Healthwatch’s Executive Director, Dr. Nicki Jackson, said there was ample evidence to demonstrate that an additional off-licence had real potential to increase alcohol-related harm among local residents. "Socio-economically deprived areas are over-saturated with alcohol outlets and they have suffered tremendously from our liberalised alcohol laws. Despite new liquor laws coming into place in 2012, hazardous drinking rates have increased in New Zealand, particularly among Māori women. We cannot allow this situation continue."
Dr Jackson adds that "we are aware that this is the first community ‘success’ in opposing an off-licence application in South Auckland in the five years following our new liquor laws. We hope that this sends a strong message to others that future applications for new bottle stores will again be met with fierce community resistance."