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Christchurch City Council Media Release 9 May 2002

Christchurch District Licensing Agency applauds decision punishing underage liquor sales

The decision by the Liquor Licensing Authority (7 May) directing seven Christchurch businesses to suspend off-licence liquor sales for up to five days is being applauded by the city’s Sale of Liquor Inspector Martin Ferguson.

“I’m thrilled about this and I think the public will be too, given the attention that’s being given to problems associated with underage drinking,” Mr Ferguson says.

The cases were heard over three days last month. Christchurch outlets now facing five-day suspensions of off licence sales are Broughham Tavern in Waltham Road, Pak’N Save in Riccarton Mall, Ferrymead Tavern, Night ‘N Day in Victoria Street, Fresh Choice Merivale and Woolston Tavern. Big Fresh in Moorehouse Avenue faces a three-day suspension.

The penalties follow a controlled purchase operation in December 2001, run by the District Licensing Agency, the Police and Crown Public Health. Three young people, aged from 15 to 17 years, were sent into premises with cash to try to buy alcohol.

Mr Ferguson says the operation relied on an Onehunga court case, which ruled the system was valid in cracking down on underage sales. Until that case it had been difficult to prove such sales were taking place.

“This is a very good result,” he says. “These are the first suspensions handed down for one-off sales to an underage customer. These penalties should hurt and I think the punishments will concentrate the minds of retailers.”

Mr Ferguson says he is impressed with how well stand-alone bottle stores are doing in staying within the law. “We visited 30 premises, including 16 separate bottle stores,” he says. “Not one of them would sell to our volunteers.”

For more information: Call Sale of Liquor Inspector Martin Ferguson on 941 8956.


  1. Every area has a district licensing agency (DLA), which generally is the local authority.
  2. DLAs issue liquor licences and monitor the performance of all licensed premises.
  3. The Liquor Licensing Authority, which issued the above reserved decision, was chaired by District Court Judge E.W. Unwin, with J.C. Crookston as a member.
  4. In December 1999 the legal drinking age was lowered to 18. That law change also included an increase to a maximum of $10,000 in penalties for managers and licensees found to be supplying liquor to minors. As well, the District Court was given power to suspend a licence for up to seven days for such an offence.
  5. Christchurch has about 150 off-licences.

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