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More Money For Police Not The Answer To Preventing Alcohol Harm

Kaiaarahi of Kookiri ki Taamakimakaurau Trust (the Trust) and WAI2624 lead claimant, Raawiri Ratuu, is calling for changes to be made to the alcohol licensing system following comments from Police Commissioner Andy Foster reported by RNZ today.

While a lack of resources to address alcohol harm was a key feature of the article, the Trust contends that giving police more money to deal with alcohol harm is a bottom of the cliff response.

“We have long said that the greatest risk to our hauora is the proliferation of off-licence bottle shops, and that addressing issues of over-supply is the single best thing that can be done to prevent the rates of alcohol harm we are seeing as a country.” Raawiri says.

“It is refreshing to hear this being repeated by the Police Commissioner, however calls made by other organisations to funnel money to police is misguided and will only entrench the unequal and disproportionate harm from alcohol experienced by Maaori.”

On 14 July 2022, Mr Ratuu spoke at the Police Alcohol Harm Prevention Officer conference in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, to call for greater partnership with Maaori in the prevention of alcohol harm.

“Two years ago I challenged alcohol harm prevention officers to take the first step in building a strong partnership with Maaori to prevent alcohol harm, and it seems to me that nothing has changed. Mau mau te waa!

“Maaori are disproportionately affected by the presence and accessibility of waipiro in our communities, and yet we are often denied a voice in the decision making process. There is no requirement for District Licensing Committees to consult with Maaori when considering

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applications, which has resulted in bottle shops flooding our communities and even opening near waahi tapu.”

Information obtained under the Official Information Act 1982 from the Ministry of Health shows that from 2018 to 2021 more than 30,000 liquor licence applications were made - and only 87 consulted Maaori.

“Successive Governments have avoided their responsibility to protect Maaori from waipiro harm, and a review of District Licensing Committees would be an opportunity for the Crown to show they are serious about upholding their Tiriti obligations when it comes to preventing and minimising alcohol harm to Maaori.” Raawiri says.

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