The History Of Alcohol Laws In New Zealand
Early Laws And The Licensing Act Of 1881
New Zealand’s alcohol laws date back as early as 1840 when it was adapted from the British’s legal system. Like most countries, the early alcohol laws in New Zealand were largely influenced by the beliefs at the time it was enacted. For example, Maōri people were banned from purchasing and consuming liquor at one point.
In 1876, New Zealand put an end to provincial governments leaving the country with inconsistent liquor laws. The Licensing Act of 1881 was then put in place as a solution to this problem. A key principle from the act that’s still present in New Zealand today is that those who serve alcohol are largely responsible for how the customer behaves.
Interestingly, this act also had a couple of eyebrow-raising rules: women weren’t allowed to provide any entertainment (dancing) in bars, and teens as young as 16 were already allowed to purchase and enjoy alcohol.
The Rise Of The Temperance Movement
At the turn of the 19th century, temperance ideas from the United States and Britain soon landed on Kiwi shores. Temperance means moderating and renouncing the consumption of alcohol. This movement gained traction due to the discovery of various social, health and mental problems that were linked to drinking.
In spite of the furious and stiff opposition, the movement continued to push for prohibition and a total ban on alcohol. Temperance protesters went on an all-out campaign against liquor – they organised ‘no licence leagues’ that produced newspaper advertisements and anti-alcohol public talks. However, the publicans, brewers, and spirit merchants fought back hard. Unfortunately, the only significant success that the temperance movement achieved was raising the drinking age to 18.
There is also compelling data that correlates alcohol with sexual risk-taking and sexual abuse. Also, there is substantial proof showing that teens under the influence of alcohol have an increased probability of participating in violence, vandalism, and sexual crimes.
A study from Massey University found that New Zealand teenagers were still being supplied with huge amounts of alcohol. It compared two general population of drinkers before and after the 2012 Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act and found the reduction in supply to be insignificant. Also, the study found that in demographics the supplier will most likely be male, NZ European, around 18-24 years old and directly related or a friend of the minor. Supplying alcohol to a minor without the parent’s consent will cost you $NZD2000 ($AUD1890).
What Can Be Done
The current approach of the government for curbing teenage alcohol use has been deemed unsubstantial by researchers. The approach includes: alcohol and drug education in schools, PSAs advertising responsible drinking, and warning labels on alcohol packaging.
So what do researchers suggest? Firstly, they’re proposing key reforms including raising the age to drink in New Zealand to 21, restricting alcohol advertisements, and regulating the hours of sale in liquor stores and bars.
Finally, the vast pool of research stresses the importance of familial support in encouraging healthy alcohol habits in teenagers. Sitting down with teens and explaining its harmful effects could greatly improve their future attitude towards alcohol – eventually steering them away from its deadly consequences.