April 19, 2023

In support of the Licensing Trusts Model in West Auckland

In a future with less alcohol-related harm, our children would grow up in neighbourhoods with safer roads and communities, whānau would be happier and healthier, our essential workers (such as hospital staff and police) would be safe to carry out their mahi, and no one would be exposed to alcohol-related violence. 

But right now, across Aotearoa, significant alcohol-related harm occurs every day. In an effort to continue the status quo the alcohol industry repeatedly stymies Local Councils’ efforts to establish Local Alcohol Policies (LAP), which are one tool in the kete to minimise alcohol-related harm. The industry uses its deep pockets on ongoing and costly legal appeals, leading to the watering down of LAPs and Regional Councils abandoning the process altogether. The insufficient Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act has led to cheap and readily available alcohol proliferating our streets and neighbourhoods, particularly in communities with fewer material resources1.

There are existing effective models across Aotearoa to regulate alcohol, including West Auckland’s Licensing Trusts. Set up in the 1970s; the Licensing Trusts is a community initiative to control the sale of alcohol in West Auckland. The Licensing Trusts owns The Trusts, the publicly owned asset and sole operator able to sell alcohol in the area. It has community-elected trustees to govern its activities across hotels, taverns, and off-licenses. Surplus profits from these businesses are returned to the West Auckland community through grants, rebates, and sponsorship.

The Licensing Trusts are seen as the ‘gold standard’ for managing liquor stores, with rigorous training of staff and minimising exposure, availability, and affordability of alcohol. Community members and organisations would like to see The Licensing Trusts take this one step further, with more deliberate resources put towards minimising alcohol-related harm.

Identifying The Trusts as a key partner in systems approach to alcohol-related harm, Healthy Families Waitākere undertook a comparative study on outlet density between West Auckland suburbs and neighbouring suburbs with similar population demographics. The study found three times the number of alcohol outlets in communities without the licensing trust model, alongside clustering of outlets and more frequent exposure.

Working alongside The Trusts, our collective strategic intent has been to explore what strategies and resources we might deploy to reduce alcohol-related harm in West Auckland.

In earlier 2022, Healthy Families Waitākere developed a briefing for The Trusts on international best practice for reducing alcohol-related harm. Initiatives included: limiting opening hours, disestablishing single sales, reducing advertising and store visibility (particularly around schools) and phasing out tobacco products. Of the initiatives presented to The Trusts, three of the five have been actioned and implemented: Reducing store-front advertising, disestablishing single sales and phasing out tobacco.

In 2023 Lynette Adams, the former CEO of Healthy Families Waitākere lead provider Sport Waitākere took on a new role within The Trusts as the Community Engagement Manager. We have since worked closely with Adams on several projects, including a submission to the consultation process for the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act alongside exploring options to focus investment on community-led alcohol-related harm reduction innovations.

  1. The relationship between alcohol outlets and harm. A spatial panel analysis for New Zealand. Health Promotion Agency, November 2016.