This website provides guidance to persons & organisations seeking changes to NZ's alcohol laws

Review of liquor laws announced March 2021

In March 2021, the Minister of Justice stated that he believed it would be beneficial to review the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (our main law that controls the sale and supply of alcohol).

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi told Newsroom that he believed it would be beneficial to review the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, and he was assessing the ability to do that within what was already a fairly full work programme in the Justice portfolio.
The timing and scope of any review would be subject to Cabinet consideration and approval, he said.

It is very important that any review is wide in scope - allowing a fresh, comprehensive look at our liquor laws. If the scope is narrow, only a few aspects of the law will be looked at. This won't bring about the changes in alcohol harm that are desperately needed.

Decisions on the scope of the review - wide, moderate, or narrow - will be determined by Cabinet in this Parliamentary term. 

Alcohol Healthwatch has been approached by many individuals wanting to have their say on the review of our liquor laws. To assist with these requests, we have created this website to enable community say.

One of the priority objectives of our 2012 laws was to "improve community input into local alcohol licensing decisions"

Why support a wide review?

It is clear that our 2021 liquor laws are not working. Alcohol use and harm remain unacceptably high. Communities still struggle to have a say on alcohol availability against the powerful, well-resourced alcohol industry.

Inequities in alcohol use and harm have not changed. COVID-drinking stats suggest that the pandemic is increasing alcohol harm to Māori.

The law has failed because it didn't address the three main contributors to alcohol use in our country = the low price of alcohol, its high availability, and pervasive advertising and sponsorship.

Councils have tried to address availability by developing local alcohol policies, to set limits on the number of alcohol outlets, their location, and their trading hours. But so many of these policies have been appealed by the supermarket duopoly and bottle stores. This has resulted in policies being watered down so they are not as effective as they could be. Some Councils have even given up the policy process after spending huge sums of rate-payer money. Some Councils have chosen not to develop a policy at all.

There are so many benefits of New Zealanders drinking less. But communities won't reap these benefits until we address the low price of alcohol, its high availability and widespread marketing.

Writing a letter to the Minister of Justice

Many community groups, DHBs, non-governmental health organisations, and academics have written to the Justice Minister calling on Cabinet to implement a wide review of the Act. If we tinker with the existing Act, we will see no meaningful change in alcohol harm for this generation and the next.

Thank you for your interest in having your say on the scope of the review. We have provided examples of six letters below. If you wish to write a letter, feel free to write about how your community, or the work your organisation does, would be positively impacted from stronger, evidence-based laws on alcohol.


Some key facts to support your letter

Alcohol use and harm in Aotearoa

  • In 2020/21, 20% of all NZers aged 15+yrs were hazardous drinkers
  • Among 18-24 year olds, hazardous drinking was 41.0% among males and 28.5% among females
  • There is a high prevalence of hazardous drinking among males of every age group
  • Māori men were 1.6 times more likely to drink hazardously than non-Māori men
  • Māori women were 1.9 times more likely to drink hazardously than non-Māori women
  • More than 800 New Zealanders die each year from alcohol
  • The death rate from alcohol for Māori in 2007 was two and a half times the rate for non-Māori
  • Alcohol use is involved in more than one-third of family harm incidents
  • 1,800 or more babies are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Alcohol is the second biggest contributing factor to road crashes in New Zealand, with more than 100 road deaths each year involving alcohol

Alcohol is too cheap

  • New Zealand research shows alcohol is more affordable than ever before, sold for as little as 77c per standard drink

Alcohol is too available

  • There are more alcohol outlets in the most deprived communities
  • Council local alcohol policies have failed to limit the growth of alcohol outlets: the supermarkets have appealed 86% of draft local alcohol policies, bottle stores have appealed 72% of policies
  • We need to get rid of the appeals process so communities can have more say
  • Communities struggle to be successful in fighting against new liquor outlets in their neighbourhoods
  • The more alcohol outlets in a community, the more harm
  • The opening hours of alcohol outlets are too long - 7am to 11pm for a bottle store is too long
  • Online alcohol sales have increased rapidly, age verification at delivery is poor, and our online alcohol laws are out of date

Alcohol is heavily advertised

  • In New Zealand, the alcohol industry spends $60m per year on alcohol advertising (not including sponsorship)
  • Children, rangatahi and persons with alcohol use disorders are very vulnerable to being harmed from seeing and hearing alcohol advertising
  • We need the same restrictions to alcohol advertising that we have for tobacco - we don't allow cigarettes to be advertised

Sending your letter

Where to send your letter and/or get help

Email your letter to Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister of Justice.

For any help or support with your letter, contact: Dr Nicki Jackson -