Māori communities in David vs Goliath fight against alcohol industry

Public health agency Hāpai Te Hauora chief executive Selah Hart says the just-announced changes to alcohol law can’t come soon enough.

Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan announced on Sunday that she plans to amend the rules covering alcohol licencing.

She plans a bill to make it easier for the public to object to new or renewing alcohol licence applications and remove the alcohol industry’s ability to appeal local alcohol policies.

Hart says the move from the minister’s commitment to adjusting the law is commendable but is not enough.

“The harm perpetuated through communities by alcohol is long-lasting. It has been centuries long that we have had to bear the brunt of the harm.”

Hart says she wants communities to have their power reinstated and to be heard and refers to the struggle against the alcohol industry as being a David vs Goliath situation.

“We want to see that undone, and not let the alcohol lobby be the goliath in this situation.”

Hart says that the availability of alcohol access to the public needs to be made more difficult by stripping back numbers in communities that are inundated with alcohol stores.

“The Crown has failed in its obligation under Te Tiriti. It has not acted in a good partnership, it has not protected us from an introduced product and it has stalled our ability to participate in the process.

“So if we are looking at a way forward then we need to start addressing the underlying failures of the Crown and start to build back better solutions that are by Māori for Māori with support from the Crown.”