The law about supply to young people

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 controls the sale and supply of alcohol in New Zealand.

Supplying alcohol to under-18s

It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 years of age.

Someone under the age of 18 cannot be supplied with alcohol unless*:

  • the person supplying the alcohol is their parent or legal guardian AND the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner, OR
  • the person supplying alcohol has the express consent of the teenager’s parent or legal guardian AND the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner.

* You could be fined up to $2,000 if you don’t follow this law.

Who is a guardian?

A person is only considered a teenager’s legal guardian if he or she is recognised as a guardian under the Care of Children Act 2004. A legal guardian is not another family member like an aunt, uncle, older brother or sister, older boyfriend or girlfriend, sports coach or anyone else acting temporarily in the place of a parent. 

What does express consent mean?

If you’re supplying alcohol to an under-18-year-old who is not your child, you need to ensure you have express consent from their parent or legal guardian before giving them alcohol.

Express consent may include a personal conversation, an email or txt message that you have good reason to believe is genuine.

What does responsible manner mean?

To supply alcohol to teenagers under 18-years-old responsibly you should:

  • supervise the drinking of alcohol
  • provide food
  • provide a choice of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks
  • ensure safe transport options are in place.

Also consider:

  • the nature of the occasion
  • the time period over which the alcohol is supplied
  • the strength and amount of alcohol supplied
  • the age of the teenager.

Drinking and driving

There is a zero alcohol limit for anyone aged under 20. Anyone under 20 could be charged with drink driving if they consume any alcohol and then drive.

For more information