Case examples

In this section:


Examples of overarching intentions for reducing alcohol-related harm in different settings

“A safe and healthy community, free from alcohol-related harm”

This is the vision of the Hastings District Council and Napier City Council Joint Alcohol Strategy: Reducing Alcohol Related Harm, 2017-2022. 
“Love our Place” This key theme was proposed to underpin work to develop an alcohol harm reduction plan for Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC). This message reflected a commonly held stakeholder view of the region, despite different opinions on the cause of alcohol-related harm, and had the potential to be used broadly in community messaging about managing alcohol. 


“To improve wellbeing in Nelson Tasman communities by preventing alcohol related harm”

“This is what we do:

Identify priorities for action
Undertake projects

Review and evaluate change”

The Alcohol Harm Prevention Partnership Nelson Tasman* (AHPP) documents this purpose and function in its terms of reference under the overarching intention of “Improving wellbeing”:

* includes regulatory agencies and other groups that have an active interest in preventing alcohol-related harm


Examples of multifaceted alcohol harm reduction plans

The Hastings District Council and Napier City Council Joint Alcohol Strategy: Reducing Alcohol Related Harm (2011, revised 2017) supports a combination of regulatory approaches and preventive and educational interventions. 

“While regulatory measures are important controls, social, economic, and cultural drivers are significant contributors to alcohol related harm – these drivers require often longer term educational and preventative interventions to make an impact. This strategy supports a mix of regulatory approaches with preventative and educational interventions that encourage collaboration amongst councils, government agencies, business and community.”

The Christchurch Alcohol Action Plan (CAAP)[1] provides a collective vision, strategies and actions aimed at achieving a sustained reduction in alcohol-related harm in the community.

Christchurch City Council (CCC), Canterbury District Health Board and New Zealand Police are the principal organisations leading the CAAP, which was developed with support from the Safer Christchurch and Healthy Christchurch interagency groups.

These three principal organisational partners have oversight of the programme of actions and priorities, and partner with other organisational parties interested and invested in achieving the collective vision. These organisations drive the linkages with community stakeholders and NGO agencies for work streams in the plan that are non-regulatory.

Alcohol licensing, enforcement and regulatory activities are only one of several roles in alcohol harm reduction within the ambit of each of the three principal partner organisations. In line with this, the plan’s main focus involves work outside the regulatory environment.

However, it also provides an opportunity to give visibility and recognition to the regulatory alcohol harm reduction work that was already undertaken or is planned by the regulatory agencies. For example, within the strategic intention to work with off-licensed premises to reduce alcohol-related harm, initiatives include conducting controlled purchase operations (CPOs), educating premises’ managers and staff, and communicating safe drinking messages to drinkers and hosts.




Joint work in Te Arawai

Joint work between Te Arawa Whānau Ora, a collective of Whānau Ora providers in the Te Arawa area, Healthy Families Rotorua and Hāpai Te Hauora works to get people discussing the role of alcohol in Māori communities and what to do about it. It also involves collaboration with Toi Te Ora, Rotorua Lakes Council and Toi Ohomai.

The process applies the Māori systems return prototype Rūrū Parirau[1] to explore the use of tikanga Māori to reduce alcohol-related harm and encourage safer, healthier environments for whānau. Whānau, hapū, iwi and marae are at the heart of the process.

Rūrū Parirau offers an opportunity for communities to tell their own positive stories about minimising alcohol harm and creating safer, positive environments especially for children and families. Sharing these stories widely begins to build social permission for people to drink at low-risk levels or not drink, and creates a new narrative normalising low-risk drinking and alcohol-free spaces.

[1] Maynard, K., Wright, S., & Brown, S. (2013). The importance of destabilising negative stereotypes and the implications for policy and practice. Ruru Parirau: Māori & Alcohol,2, 78-90

The term Rūrū Parirau refers to birds shaking the wet morning dew off their wings so that they can fly unimpeded by excess weight. Healthy Families Rotorua has adopted the term Rūrū Parirau to describe the concept of 'shaking off negative stereotypes and behaviours' for their work in reducing alcohol harm.


Waipiro Harm Action Group

The Waipiro Harm Action Group established in late 2013 by Hāpai Te Hauora[1]  drew together a range of organisations committed to addressing inequities in health outcomes for Māori communities.

"We saw there was a lack of a voice for Māori in this area. It’s the start of a process to help Māori be involved in decision making around drugs and alcohol.[2]"

Papa Nahi, General Manager of Hāpai Te Hauora
Māori Public Health (at the time of quote)

The group aimed to inform and engage Māori. It set out to build awareness of the impacts of alcohol and other drug-related harm and to equip marae, whānau, kura, Kōhanga and communities with the skills and knowledge they need to reduce harm in their communities, including the development of clear objectives, strategies and outcome indicators.



Case study: Reducing alcohol-related harm in Canterbury sports clubs

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?

Issues in sports clubs related to sideline and changing room drinking were identified as negatively impacting on players, families and other sideline participants.

For some codes the lack of perceived safety was driving increased annual player turnover and limiting clubs’ ability to be family-friendly environments. Both impacted negatively on club sustainability and served as key drivers for clubs to work towards managing alcohol and related harm.

Particular issues in rugby league settings included three assaults during the 2018 season and threats by someone with a weapon. Around 75% of clubs were dealing with alcohol-related behaviour on sidelines including drinking at junior games, abuse directed towards other spectators, and officials and volunteers being challenged by people who had been drinking alcohol.[1]

Who collaborated to address this?

Alcohol Licensing Officers and Alcohol Health Promoter at Community and Public Health, Canterbury DHB
Christchurch City Council (CCC) Licensing Inspector
Sport Canterbury and Healthy Families Ōtautahi (Christchurch)
Sports codes – clubs and senior personnel from each code (Chief Executive or other management)

Christchurch City Council Policy team (new bylaw development)

What did the collaboration do?

Workshops were piloted with rugby league clubs and extended to tennis, cricket, bowls and rugby codes. Workshops were developed and operated in a partnership between the local sporting organisation, Community and Public Health, Council Inspectors, Sport Canterbury and Healthy Families Ōtautahi.

The 90-minute workshops focused on improving club culture, reducing problematic drinking and providing a safe and supportive environment for families. Presenters also covered guidelines to assist club licence renewal and fielded multiple questions from the mixed audience of club coaches, bar managers/staff and committee members.

The newly released Te Hiringa Hauora Alcohol Game Plan resources were promoted at the workshops. Health and Council licensing staff jointly developed templates for club alcohol policies and club alcohol management plans, with examples, that could be readily completed by clubs. Council licensing personnel made themselves available on request to help develop policy and plan prior to club licence renewal applications.

Efforts to address alcohol issues in rugby league clubs were strongly supported by George Lajpold, Club Capability Manager at Canterbury Rugby League and Systems Innovator for Healthy Families Ōtautahi. Lajpold, a former New Zealand and Cook Islands rugby league representative, presented at workshops that enhanced confidence and interest from participating clubs. He was also instrumental in a Canterbury Rugby League submission to Christchurch City Council that led to the inclusion of rugby league sports fields in alcohol ban areas, firstly with a temporary ban in 2019 and then with a permanent ban in 2020 applying to all sidelines, changing rooms, carparks and children’s play areas.

Sport Canterbury contributed essential knowledge of sports code management contacts. Council licensing inspectors and public health licensing staff were familiar with individual clubs and personnel involved with club licensing applications. Healthy Families Ōtautahi was invaluable with its involvement and credibility with some sports codes. DHB health promotion personnel convened the collaborative process.

What was the outcome?                                                                        

Workshops have been well received. Of just over 60 attendees at the first four workshops,[1] all reported that they found the workshops helpful and they understood more about “how to manage alcohol in our club”. Overall, 83% reported that they understood what was needed for club licence renewal and 95% reported feeling confident about what to do next.

At the project outset, 70% of rugby league clubs identified alcohol as a problem for their club and 75% reported sideline drinking as an issue.

With the alcohol ban in place, club members are now effectively monitoring rugby league games, with backup from the New Zealand Police (which has not been necessary to date).

The rugby league alcohol ban has been well received by clubs, which have experienced a reduction in alcohol-related incidents and an increase in bar takings as a result of drinking being shifted to club bars (average 134% increase across three clubs).[2]

Most rugby league clubs now have an alcohol policy and management plan in place. Other codes have taken longer to develop alcohol policies and management plans for various reasons including:

club alcohol policies and management plans not being a current legal requirement
high turnover of club volunteers, which means less familiarity with processes and good practice

clubs in general being more motivated to develop these documents when club licence renewals are due, to enable a smoother renewal process.

[1] Evaluation data for the fifth workshop is pending at the time of writing.

[2] Twelve clubs are covered by the bylaws: seven have clubrooms or are linked to a multi-sport complex operating bar facilities. Data is from three clubs with 2019 financial returns that include bar takings data.

Why it worked/What we learned

Previous attempts to work with a single sports club had not been successful as the approach lacked the legitimacy offered by senior sports code personnel and broader organisational involvement.

Access to a champion added credibility to the process and enhanced club engagement; as a respected player, Lajpold was able to engage the audience on alcohol issues in league clubs.

Each partner brought their own speciality to the process. Public health personnel led discussions on culture change and CCC Licensing covered the requirements for renewing an alcohol licence. Sport Canterbury and Healthy Families Ōtautahi built on their existing relationships in clubs to get people to attend and engage.

Having both an alcohol ban and proactive club actions has prompted relatively rapid culture change in rugby league clubs. The shift in club approaches along with the inclusion of rugby league sports fields in alcohol ban areas provides a consistent message that negative behaviours related to alcohol are not tolerated.

The success of this approach was helped by each agency and sports code having the shared goal of reducing alcohol harm and having different contacts and communication channels. It was also helpful to have enforcement and monitoring roles involved; clubs are motivated by club licence renewals, which typically make a real difference to the financial viability of the club. Funding for the workshops, including 


Case study: Reducing harm from Electric Avenue Festival

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?

Issues arose from preloading and drug use at the annual Electric Avenue Festival held during Orientation Week in Christchurch.

This music festival held in North Hagley Park attracts an audience of thousands, including large numbers of students and other young people.

In 2018 a batch of drugs passed off as MDMA (ecstasy) was actually n-ethylpentylone, considerably more potent than ecstasy. As a result 13 people were admitted to Christchurch Hospital, including a 15-year-old. A large number of intoxicated students also arrived on buses from the University and presented for entry to the event.

Who collaborated to address this?

  • Christchurch City Council (CCC)
  • Licensing Inspectors
  • Police
  • Community and Public Health, Canterbury DHB
  • University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA)
  • Event organisers
  • Council Events Team (CCC)
  • Council Policy Team (for obtaining the temporary bylaw approval)

What did the collaboration do?

Tri-agency personnel used both debrief and pre-application meetings with event organisers to identify and review problems. After the 2018 event, they asked the event organisers to apply earlier the following year so they could take actions to mitigate risk. Organisers were advised that the licence would be opposed if they were unwilling to makes changes.

For 2019, Police drove a strategy to make changes with support from licensing inspectors and public health personnel. They engaged with the licensee (event organisers) and UCSA to implement proactive, prevention-first approaches, which included:

providing bus transport to take students from the university campus to the event and a UCSA requirement that students could only travel to the event by bus
conducting mandatory screening at bus entry to assess for intoxication (with entry refused for those who were intoxicated)
making higher-profile use of Red Frogs, a student group that provides and distributes free water and other hydration/sweets through the crowds at events; they also act as an intermediary between patrons and other supports such as security and first aid providers as needed
asking CCC to impose a temporary 24-hour alcohol ban in North Hagley Park on the day of the festival to stop preloading outside the event (people were unable to drink or carry alcohol in Hagley Park outside the festival gates); event publicity mentioned the ban and advised that Police may search bags, confiscate alcohol and stop people drinking in Hagley Park and in surrounding streets.

In 2018 the agencies had input into consultation to Council on the alcohol bylaws reviews, supporting Council’s approval of the ability to request temporary alcohol ban areas for certain types of large-scale events in Hagley Park. In 2019 the applicants for Electric Avenue requested the temporary ban, and this was the first time it was used by Council.

At the 2019 festival, the number of general police, medical staff, Red Frogs, and security officers on-site was increased. Christchurch police sent out a warning before the 2019 festival, reminding people to be aware of drug-taking risks, to watch alcohol intake and drink responsibly, and to take care of themselves and friends. The tri-agency licensing officers also undertook a coordinated monitoring operation on the day of the event.

Community and Public Health engaged St John and emergency departments to collate data on festival-related emergency department appearances and St John on-site management of alcohol- and drug-related issues.

What was the outcome?

There was a big reduction in intoxicated people arriving at the 2019 event. The event attracted about 15,000 people, the largest crowd in the event’s five-year history, despite bad weather. Yet the need for hospital treatment (for two people following suspected MDMA use) was much reduced compared with 2018.

Late on the event night, emergency services signalled that the festival “had gone off without a hitch”.

The process also prompted:

an ongoing relationship, understanding and open dialogue with the event organisers, who run multiple large events annually in Hagley Park

collaboration with St John and emergency departments on event monitoring to inform accurate assessment of future applications and event management.

Why it worked/What we learned

Work with event organisers focused on a prevention-first approach by considering and mitigating risk.

Effective elements included:

use of debriefs as a learning, improvement and feedback approach
a range of complementary strategies including the Council’s new large-scale event liquor ban, reduction in the number of patrons who were intoxicated on arrival, and enhanced policing and security on-site
collaborative, focused monitoring by the licensing agencies

engagement with UCSA, who implemented additional controls for students, such as mandatory public transport to the event and the use of Red Frogs.


Case study: Partnering with Māori Wardens in South
Auckland [1] 

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?

Māori Wardens raised a call to action concerning alcohol-related harm, particularly in South Auckland, where the proliferation of alcohol outlets has been the greatest.

This issue was being considered against the backdrop of evidence that, compared to other New Zealanders, Māori are now more likely to die of alcohol-related causes, and as a result of drinking are more likely to face injuries, legal problems and harm to their financial position, work, study and employment.

Who collaborated to address this?

  • Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS)
  • Māori Wardens 

What did the collaboration do?

Face-to-face discussions with Māori Wardens initiated a change in the licensing process which enabled Wardens to become more involved in opposing licensing applications.

Priority areas in South Auckland were collectively identified. Any application and data related to these areas are shared with the Wardens before compliance officers report on an application.

Legal training for Māori Wardens has also been provided, strengthening legal participation.

What was the outcome?

With Māori Wardens being notified of every licensing application, area knowledge and experience has been strengthened helping to minimise alcohol-related harm. This is a commitment to the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Ottawa Charter.

Long term changes were incorporated into ARPHS regulatory protocol to support the process and ensure application of principles of equity, partnership and active protection

Why it worked/What we learned

The approach has become a model for successful collaboration with Māori, upholding the principle of active protection in accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi.


Case study: Addressing mid-week disorder spikes in Tasman

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?

Mid-week spikes in disorder in central Nelson were identified as associated with crew coming into town off large fishing vessels. A proportion of crew were spending heavily and keen to drink. There were also indications of drug use including methamphetamine playing a part in behaviour issues.

Nelson licensees raised the issue, which was discussed at the Alcohol Harm Prevention Partnership Nelson Tasman (AHPP). AHPP includes those with an active interest in preventing alcohol-related harm, including:

  • Nelson Marlborough Health – Public Health
  • Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council – Alcohol Licensing Division
  • Nelson City Council – Community Partnerships Team
  • New Zealand Police
  • Nelson Bays Primary Health
  • ACC
  • Hospitality New Zealand.

Who collaborated to address this?

  • Police
  • Licensed premises owners/managers and Hospitality New Zealand
  • ACC
  • Nelson City Council Licensing Inspectors
  • Balance of AHPP members in a support role

What did the collaboration do?

Fishing companies Talley’s and Sealord were advised of the issues, of which they had been unaware, and were invited to an AHPP meeting. A small group of skippers and senior managers attended and were more fully briefed on the situation.

As a collaboration, AHPP was able to provide the fishing companies with information on the issue from multiple perspectives, including that of Police, ACC, and the licensees who needed to manage the crews in their premises. This created a coherent picture of the:

  • impact on Police and evidence of disorder events
  • impact on the community in terms of disorder and harm
  • effect on licensees who had the responsibility for trying to manage patrons intent on getting heavily intoxicated and in some cases actively using drugs
  • concerns of ACC about associated risk if drugs were being taken on board vessels.
The health messaging on associated harm and the ACC position in particular added impetus for the fishing industry to act. 

What was the outcome?

Nelson Police received a roster of vessels coming into port, and focused on boats with larger crew numbers and longer periods at sea (privacy considerations were addressed). With this information:

Police alerted rostered personnel to the potential risk of disorder so they could deploy resource where needed

licensees responded as required by informing staff and/or rostering on additional security and/or extra bar and management personnel.

The fishing industry took a strong stance, setting out expectations of their crew, in particular regarding drug use and the associated threat to their income and potentially their employment.

As a result, the disorder spikes ceased and have not recurred in the following three or so years.

Over recent times, Police have no longer needed to alert rostered personnel about incoming vessels, indicating that a shift in fishing crew behaviours has been maintained.

Why it worked/What we learned

The AHPP provided the forum for licensees to bring the issue to the attention of the three regulatory agencies and for all agencies to remain abreast of action taken on the issue.

The collaboration could give the fishing companies a more compelling picture of the issue and its impact. This prompted a more favourable and helpful response from them. The ACC perspectives added weight to the argument and ensured the fishing industry included concerns about drug-related harm in their response.