National | Alcohol

Tokomaru Bay community call for liquor ban

The Tokomaru Bay Community have had enough and a proposal could lead to a bylaw that would ban drinking in in public areas.

“The main goal is for these areas to be free for families and children and for the playgrounds and the beach here by the seaside to be clear of rubbish,” says Karauria Ratapu.

Ratapu, of Ngāti Porou, is a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Taonga Tūturu in Tokomaru Bay and he is behind the push to make public areas in his town more family-friendly.

“There are a select few who are here day and night on these tables in the view of the children playing while I'm at work.  I think that's not a great example for the children of the school.”

In 1911, Sir Apirana Ngata of Ngāti Porou persuaded the Horouta Māori Council to prohibit the sale of alcohol on the East Coast so the money not spent at pubs could go on farm mortgages.

The move was supported by the women of Ngāti Porou and lasted nine years.

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon says, “The main thing is to look after the wider community because there were a number of people drinking in the streets of Tokomaru Bay and there are concerns for them.”

"The world knows about alcoholism, perhaps through this avenue, prohibiting the area for children, will make for a better tomorrow," says Ratapu.

If successful, the bylaw will prohibit drinking in the main streets and public areas from Hātea-a-Rangi School to the playground and beach area beyond the river mouth.

Foon says, “The many families of Tokomaru, of Te Whānau a Rua, and the [Gisborne District Council], need to work together for the betterment of everyone.”

“It's not as if the entire bay will be prohibited, there are still many places available for them to drink, the main thing in those areas is not to litter, that's all,” says Ratapu.