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Section 295 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (the Act) requires Police, Licensing Inspectors and Medical Officers of Health within each territorial authority to “establish and maintain arrangements with each other to ensure the ongoing monitoring of licences and the enforcement of this Act” [s295(a] and to “work together to develop and implement strategies for the reduction of alcohol-related harm” [s295(b)].

This guide is for:

  • licensing inspectors from local government
  • New Zealand Police
  • Medical Officers of Health or their delegate.

As regulatory agency personnel working in the area of alcohol licensing, you have an obligation to operate collaboratively as set out in s295 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (see above).

The guide will support you to:

  • adopt a broad perspective on s295, extending your ‘duty to collaborate’ beyond work related to alcohol licensing
  • work towards enhanced collaboration and effective s295(b) work
  • give effect to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.


What this guide covers

The guide is in two parts:

  • Part A Understanding s295(b) 
  • Part B Components of effective s295(b) collaboration 

Part A presents the benefits of a broad perspective on s295(b) with details on:

  • A1 Why focus on s295(b)? 
  • A2 A broad perspective on s295(b)

Part B presents insights on effective collaboration, grouped into four main components:

  • B1 Shared purpose
  • B2 Strong relationships and good communication
  • B3 Effective community involvement
  • B4 A project-based approach 

The guide includes detailed information and case examples for each component.

The content reflects the real-life experience of regulatory agency personnel working across New Zealand in a mix of urban and rural/provincial settings.

It draws on their experiences of the benefits and challenges in working collaboratively.

Importantly, the content includes perspectives from representative Māori organisations working in alcohol harm reduction; this reflects the critical need for agencies to work in partnership with Māori.


How to use this guide

This guide is not intended to be prescriptive but a framework for action that can be tailored to individual agencies’ and communities’ unique circumstances and needs.

If you are new to collaboration, it will be helpful if you work through the guide, starting with Part A, and referring to the key criteria for working collaboratively in Part B. If you have experience with collaboration, you can use the guide to access the information of most interest or relevance for you.

Part A: Understanding s295(b)

Many regions operate effective systems for collaboration. However, collaborative activities predominantly focus on s295(a), with joint work oriented to monitoring compliance and enforcing the provisions of the Act.

A broader perspective on s295 sees the ‘duty to collaborate’ extend beyond work related to alcohol licensing.

It is about regulatory agencies developing joint goals and strategies that reflect the region’s specific issues and needs in relation to alcohol-related harm, and implementing actions in line with these goals and strategies.

Such activities are critical for complementing alcohol licensing work. They tend to be broader approaches that can have much more far-reaching benefits in reducing alcohol-related harm than alcohol licensing activities alone.

This way of working recognises that alcohol-related harm is a complex, system problem with multiple inter-related causes. Managing such open-ended and socially complex issues rarely sits within the responsibility of one single organisation.[1]

Ideally, all relevant stakeholders, including regulatory agencies and other members of their wider organisations, work together to frame a common understanding of the system underpinning alcohol-related harm and to develop and implement the multifaceted approach required in response. Responses will very likely involve personnel within DHBs, territorial authorities and the Police beyond those specifically focused on licensed premises.

Section 295(b) of the Act is interpreted in different ways.

Some regulatory agency personnel perceive collaborative obligations as applying to activities that strictly relate to licensed alcohol supply. Others interpret the requirement as a need to work more broadly to reduce alcohol-related harm.

This lack of clarity regarding the roles of regulatory agencies in relation to s295(b) has been a significant barrier to promoting broader strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm.

A broad interpretation holds that s295(b) specifically refers to collaborative actions that extend beyond areas of monitoring of licences and the enforcement of the Act.

This approach aligns with the object of the Act to minimise the harm caused by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol. The object effectively applies a public health rather than a legal procedure lens to the Act.

The challenge for regulatory agency personnel is to find or develop the capacity and capability to manage the obligation related to licensing and to take action to reduce alcohol-related harm within their communities.

Part B: Components of effective s295(b) collaboration

Effective interagency relationships need to operate at regulatory management as well as operational levels.

Figure 1: Cross-regulatory tri-agency links for effective collaboration (PDF download) shows the types of cross-agency links that support effective collaboration and plans for alcohol harm reduction.

These cross-agency links are supported by good communication between strategic and operational levels within the regulatory agencies.

Effective cross-agency regulatory collaboration for joint planning and aligned actions helps to ensure coherent and consistent messages to licensees and other stakeholders like community groups. This enhances message impact and reduces the risk of differing or conflicting advice.

Tri-agency regulatory communications such as newsletters for licensees or a community brochure on licence oppositions will reinforce this messaging.

Building relationships and working collaboratively to identify and prioritise issues and to agree and jointly plan and implement responses in line with s295(b) takes time and resource. This process will be tailored to account for:

  • available regulatory personnel resource, allowing for differences in alcohol licensing system workload and assigned responsibilities beyond alcohol (such as rural police, who hold multiple portfolios, public health personnel who hold multiple officer and/or health protection and promotion roles, and inspectors who also hold other regulatory officer roles)
  • additional resource accessible through other parts of each organisation, for example other personnel working on alcohol harm reduction, such as community development personnel in larger territorial authorities and health promoters in larger public health units.

The overall intention is that regulatory agencies work together to the best of their ability to identify and address alcohol-related harm, using a range of levers permitted within their roles to address this.

A key challenge is the demands on agencies created by day-to-day functions.

The typical reality in many regulatory agency roles is the significant numbers of applications to be processed alongside monitoring and enforcement obligations. These responsibilities tend to ‘speak louder’ than alcohol-related harm, and often remain the focus, because of legislative obligations in dealing with applications, at the expense of strategies to address known issues.

Regulatory agency personnel need to be supported at management level and resourced to ensure both parts of their roles can be completed (refer B 2.4). External funding can help with resourcing and other needs; for example, AHPP in Nelson Tasman has benefited from funding for research and projects (including from ACC and Council). This has allowed projects to be more readily resourced, including providing paid personnel to undertake local research into alcohol-related harm.

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?
Māori Wardens raised a call to action concerning alcohol-related harm, particularly in South Auckland, where the proliferation of alcohol outlets has been the greatest.

This issue was being considered against the backdrop of evidence that, compared to other New Zealanders, Māori are now more likely to die of alcohol-related causes, and as a result of drinking are more likely to face injuries, legal problems and harm to their financial position, work, study and employment.

Who collaborated to address this?

  • Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS)
  • Māori Wardens 

What did the collaboration do?
Face-to-face discussions with Māori Wardens initiated a change in the licensing process which enabled Wardens to become more involved in opposing licensing applications.

Priority areas in South Auckland were collectively identified. Any application and data related to these areas are shared with the Wardens before compliance officers report on an application.

Legal training for Māori Wardens has also been provided, strengthening legal participation.

What was the outcome?
With Māori Wardens being notified of every licensing application, area knowledge and experience has been strengthened helping to minimise alcohol-related harm. This is a commitment to the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Ottawa Charter.

Long term changes were incorporated into ARPHS regulatory protocol to support the process and ensure application of principles of equity, partnership and active protection

Why it worked/What we learned
The approach has become a model for successful collaboration with Māori, upholding the principle of active protection in accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi.

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?

Mid-week spikes in disorder in central Nelson were identified as associated with crew coming into town off large fishing vessels. A proportion of crew were spending heavily and keen to drink. There were also indications of drug use including methamphetamine playing a part in behaviour issues.

Nelson licensees raised the issue, which was discussed at the Alcohol Harm Prevention Partnership Nelson Tasman (AHPP). AHPP includes those with an active interest in preventing alcohol-related harm, including:

  • Nelson Marlborough Health – Public Health
  • Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council – Alcohol Licensing Division
  • Nelson City Council – Community Partnerships Team
  • New Zealand Police
  • Nelson Bays Primary Health
  • ACC
  • Hospitality New Zealand.

Who collaborated to address this?

  • Police
  • Licensed premises owners/managers and Hospitality New Zealand
  • ACC
  • Nelson City Council Licensing Inspectors
  • Balance of AHPP members in a support role

What did the collaboration do?
Fishing companies Talley’s and Sealord were advised of the issues, of which they had been unaware, and were invited to an AHPP meeting. A small group of skippers and senior managers attended and were more fully briefed on the situation.

As a collaboration, AHPP was able to provide the fishing companies with information on the issue from multiple perspectives, including that of Police, ACC, and the licensees who needed to manage the crews in their premises. This created a coherent picture of the:

  • impact on Police and evidence of disorder events
  • impact on the community in terms of disorder and harm
  • effect on licensees who had the responsibility for trying to manage patrons intent on getting heavily intoxicated and in some cases actively using drugs

concerns of ACC about associated risk if drugs were being taken on board vessels.

The health messaging on associated harm and the ACC position in particular added impetus for the fishing industry to act. 

What was the outcome?
Nelson Police received a roster of vessels coming into port, and focused on boats with larger crew numbers and longer periods at sea (privacy considerations were addressed). With this information:

  • Police alerted rostered personnel to the potential risk of disorder so they could deploy resource where needed
  • licensees responded as required by informing staff and/or rostering on additional security and/or extra bar and management personnel.

The fishing industry took a strong stance, setting out expectations of their crew, in particular regarding drug use and the associated threat to their income and potentially their employment.

As a result, the disorder spikes ceased and have not recurred in the following three or so years.

Over recent times, Police have no longer needed to alert rostered personnel about incoming vessels, indicating that a shift in fishing crew behaviours has been maintained.

Why it worked/What we learned
The AHPP provided the forum for licensees to bring the issue to the attention of the three regulatory agencies and for all agencies to remain abreast of action taken on the issue.

The collaboration could give the fishing companies a more compelling picture of the issue and its impact. This prompted a more favourable and helpful response from them. The ACC perspectives added weight to the argument and ensured the fishing industry included concerns about drug-related harm in their response. 

B 4.1  Create specific joint actions to address priority issues

An alcohol harm reduction plan as described in B 1.2 can provide the framework for joint agency project work in line with s295(b).

However, agencies can work together to address identified and priority issues and actions regardless of whether that level of overarching planning has taken place.

Additionally, overarching planning is often at a fairly high level, setting out broad priorities, strategies and work streams. There may be an expectation that regulatory agencies design their approach in line with this broad framework but work at an operational level to agree lower-level goals and actions and align these with their roles and reporting accountabilities.

The key requirement under s295(b) is that regulatory agencies, alongside their licensing work obligations, work with one another and with other stakeholders in at least some specific project-based actions that address priority issues. By its nature this work also supports best practice in the licensing environment.

Working together, even on small projects, helps to build trust and momentum as ‘wins’ from this work increase a sense of success and capability and enhance willingness to tackle bigger and more complex issues.

Cross-sector partnerships do face significant challenges in this work because of differences in culture, risk tolerance, resource availability and other factors. Addressing social challenges requires bold leadership and flexibility to iterate approaches as projects unfold. These challenges are best managed when there is trust to draw on.

Project-based, joint actions to address a priority issue were central to Police and Licensing Inspectors working together to address mid-week disorder spikes in central Nelson (see the case study on addressing mid-week disorder spikes in Tasman). 

Joint actions also feature in an effective collaboration between Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) and Māori Wardens (see the case study) responding to wardens’ concerns about alcohol-related harm, particularly in South Auckland, where proliferation of alcohol outlets has been greatest.

The Waipiro Harm Action Group established in late 2013 by Hāpai Te Hauora[1]  drew together a range of organisations committed to addressing inequities in health outcomes for Māori communities.

"We saw there was a lack of a voice for Māori in this area. It’s the start of a process to help Māori be involved in decision making around drugs and alcohol.[2]"

Papa Nahi, General Manager of Hāpai Te Hauora
Māori Public Health (at the time of quote)

The group aimed to inform and engage Māori. It set out to build awareness of the impacts of alcohol and other drug-related harm and to equip marae, whānau, kura, Kōhanga and communities with the skills and knowledge they need to reduce harm in their communities, including the development of clear objectives, strategies and outcome indicators.

Joint work between Te Arawa Whānau Ora, a collective of Whānau Ora providers in the Te Arawa area, Healthy Families Rotorua and Hāpai Te Hauora works to get people discussing the role of alcohol in Māori communities and what to do about it. It also involves collaboration with Toi Te Ora, Rotorua Lakes Council and Toi Ohomai.

The process applies the Māori systems return prototype Rūrū Parirau[1] to explore the use of tikanga Māori to reduce alcohol-related harm and encourage safer, healthier environments for whānau. Whānau, hapū, iwi and marae are at the heart of the process.

Rūrū Parirau offers an opportunity for communities to tell their own positive stories about minimising alcohol harm and creating safer, positive environments especially for children and families. Sharing these stories widely begins to build social permission for people to drink at low-risk levels or not drink, and creates a new narrative normalising low-risk drinking and alcohol-free spaces.

[1] Maynard, K., Wright, S., & Brown, S. (2013). The importance of destabilising negative stereotypes and the implications for policy and practice. Ruru Parirau: Māori & Alcohol,2, 78-90

The term Rūrū Parirau refers to birds shaking the wet morning dew off their wings so that they can fly unimpeded by excess weight. Healthy Families Rotorua has adopted the term Rūrū Parirau to describe the concept of 'shaking off negative stereotypes and behaviours' for their work in reducing alcohol harm.

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?
Māori Wardens raised a call to action concerning alcohol-related harm, particularly in South Auckland, where the proliferation of alcohol outlets has been the greatest.

This issue was being considered against the backdrop of evidence that, compared to other New Zealanders, Māori are now more likely to die of alcohol-related causes, and as a result of drinking are more likely to face injuries, legal problems and harm to their financial position, work, study and employment.

Who collaborated to address this?
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS)
Māori Wardens 

What did the collaboration do?
Face-to-face discussions with Māori Wardens initiated a change in the licensing process which enabled Wardens to become more involved in opposing licensing applications.

Priority areas in South Auckland were collectively identified. Any application and data related to these areas are shared with the Wardens before compliance officers report on an application.

Legal training for Māori Wardens has also been provided, strengthening legal participation.

What was the outcome?
With Māori Wardens being notified of every licensing application, area knowledge and experience has been strengthened helping to minimise alcohol-related harm. This is a commitment to the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Ottawa Charter.

Long term changes were incorporated into ARPHS regulatory protocol to support the process and ensure application of principles of equity, partnership and active protection

Why it worked/What we learned
The approach has become a model for successful collaboration with Māori, upholding the principle of active protection in accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi.

B 3.1  Engage a broad group of stakeholders

Reducing alcohol-related harm is a community issue. Evidence shows that engaging the local community in the design and implementation of prevention initiatives has the potential to improve individual and collective health and wellbeing.

Collaboration involving a range of local stakeholders helps to clarify and improve understanding of local alcohol issues. This ensures communities can undertake evidence-informed activities.


B 3.2  Engage Māori as a priority

B 3.2.1 The need to prioritise Māori

Research consistently shows that Māori experience a higher level of alcohol-related harm than non-Māori.

For example, compared with other New Zealanders, Māori have higher rates of death from alcohol-related causes, are more likely to be apprehended by police for an offence that involves alcohol and are more likely to experience harmful effects in areas like financial position, work, study or employment, injuries and legal problems as a result of their drinking.[1]

It is essential to consult and partner with Māori, both for alcohol licensing and alcohol harm prevention strategies. Māori need to be engaged in determining and implementing policies and approaches to address alcohol-related harm to make certain they are effective for Māori and protect against unintended consequences.[2] There are few examples of such agency collaboration with Māori.

In order for this work to proceed effectively, there is a need for:

  • leadership drive at senior levels in agency organisations to meet their obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to consult with Māori
  • an effective picture of current alcohol-related harm for Māori that will inform priority areas of action through Māori communities to reduce that harm

Te Hiringa Hauora has partnered with Kokiri ki Tāmaki Makaurau Trust, to undertake a comprehensive alcohol-focused kaupapa Māori health needs analysis. The Ministry of Health is also likely to join the partnership. The project, Waipiro: Kaupapa Māori Tukanga mō te Panoni, will bring a strong Māori voice to the alcohol policy debate, and will enhance the ability of communities to advocate for fewer alcohol licences in their area.

B 3.2.2 Working in partnership with Māori

Government agencies are required to meet Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations in work in alcohol licensing and reducing alcohol-related harm, despite the omission of a Treaty clause in the Act. This includes consulting and working in partnership with Māori and working to create equity for and actively protect Māori. Ensuring Māori partnership, in contrast to consultation only, and self-determination, in line with the tino rangatiratanga aspect of Te Tiriti, are critical in genuine work with Māori to reduce alcohol-related harm. 

Practical options are to:

  • engage with iwi and relevant local Māori organisations alongside tri-agency collaborations and their wider organisations in developing alcohol harm reduction plans
  • ensure planning draws on Māori awareness of issues with alcohol and insights to achieve effective solutions
  • ensure plans consider options for reducing inequity in alcohol-related harm for Māori
  • ensure Māori have a genuine position in planning ie, that expands beyond simple information gathering which adds to already present research fatigue
  • as appropriate, provide information on new outlets and licence renewals to Māori organisations that are positioned to support iwi and Māori communities in objecting; in a South Auckland example, Māori Wardens are engaged to support Māori communities in opposing licensing applications (view this in the following case study).

There are examples of collaborations that bring Māori voices to the table in decision making related to reducing alcohol harm; such approaches can potentially inform regulatory agencies in their work in collaboration with Māori. These include:


Section 295 of the Act adds transparency to and legitimises collaborative tri-agency work.

Ideally this translates to higher management in all three regulatory agencies viewing collaborative action as valid, and resourcing to ensure collaborative approaches are workable.

A recognised barrier to effective joint work is a lack of management level recognition or understanding of the legitimate function of collaboration and the full scope of the regulatory officers’ legislative role under s295(b). Related to this is the failure to allow personnel to take the time needed to engage and work collaboratively.

If collaboration is recognised as a legitimate part of agency personnel licensing roles, there is no need to revisit the function with each change in regulatory or management personnel. This also means there is likely to be organisational planning and resourcing to support these functions.

Well-conducted cross-agency meetings can help to keep all parties up to date, flag issues, review progress in specific areas, share information and build the relationships that underpin effective collaborative action.

However, caution is needed to ensure that routine meetings are not mistaken for collaboration.

Tri-agency meetings feature in regions where there are more and less effective regulatory agency joint actions and relationships. Ensuring effective meeting processes can assist.

  • More effective meeting processes
    • There is a framework for operation, and a clear agenda and purpose
    • Agreements and decisions are documented
    • Attendees come prepared and report on progress on assigned, agreed tasks
    • Effective leadership drives accountability
    • Ad hoc communication continues outside the meeting
  • Less effective meeting processes
    • The meeting itself is seen as collaboration
    • Documentation is lacking, which reduces accountability
    • There is a lack of meeting planning and preparation
    • The meeting replaces ad hoc ongoing communication
    • There is no strategic regulatory agency operational planning and resourcing

Joint agency meetings that currently take place tend to focus on licensing activities, with a few exceptions.

In line with s295(b), effective meeting processes need to identify and drive progress towards agreed regulatory agency goals for reducing alcohol-related harm and project initiatives.

B 2.2.1 Take time to build positive interagency relationships

Collaborations depend on partners putting time and energy into their relationships with each other.

Interagency relationships and communication are:

  • Impacted positively by
    • Co-location or close proximity, which prompts day-to-day communication
    • Consistency of personnel over time; those in long-standing roles can help to smooth the transition during inevitable changes in personnel
    • Regular, open communication and information sharing
    • Clear understanding of, and respect for, one another’s roles and contribution
    • Shared sense of purpose
    • A ‘no surprises’ approach with respect to positions on licences and hearings 
  • Impacted negatively by
    • High rates of personnel turnover
    • Untabled differences in agency perspectives
    • Competing demands on time that interrupt planned interactions
    • A history of poor relationships
    • Differing organisational drivers eg, a customer service focus in Council vs a crime/crash focus of Police

Not all regions are able to benefit from enablers such as co-location. However, it is helpful to build on enablers that are in place and to recognise and mitigate barriers.

For example, clarity on a shared overarching purpose and each party’s role can help address a history of poor relationships and what may appear to be competing interests.

Regular, open communication and joint planning work will expose differences in organisational drivers and perspectives and prompt efforts to work around these.


B 2.2.2 Mitigate for personnel changes

Regular personnel changes impact on the ability to build relationships and maintain momentum in line with agreed actions.

High rates of Police Alcohol Harm Prevention team turnover and competing Police personnel obligations are widely cited as a key challenge to interagency collaboration and joint actions.

Effective mitigators of regular changes in personnel have included using:

  • well-informed and longer-standing sister agency personnel who are resourced to bridge the transition and bring new personnel up to date quickly
  • regional support within agencies to mentor new personnel; for example, Christchurch City Council Licensing Team will job shadow new inspectors from neighbouring territorial authorities
  • routine training within each agency and across agencies and regions
  • self-reflective activities such as partnership assessment[1] to both set up and assess effective collaboration; these tools were used in the Alcohol Harm Prevention Partnership (AHPP) in Nelson Tasman in response to a substantial turnover in agency personnel.

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?

Issues arose from preloading and drug use at the annual Electric Avenue Festival held during Orientation Week in Christchurch.

This music festival held in North Hagley Park attracts an audience of thousands, including large numbers of students and other young people.

In 2018 a batch of drugs passed off as MDMA (ecstasy) was actually n-ethylpentylone, considerably more potent than ecstasy. As a result 13 people were admitted to Christchurch Hospital, including a 15-year-old. A large number of intoxicated students also arrived on buses from the University and presented for entry to the event.

Who collaborated to address this?

  • Christchurch City Council (CCC)
  • Licensing Inspectors
  • Police
  • Community and Public Health, Canterbury DHB
  • University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA)
  • Event organisers
  • Council Events Team (CCC)
  • Council Policy Team (for obtaining the temporary bylaw approval)
  • Christchurch City Council (CCC)
  • Licensing Inspectors
  • Police
  • Community and Public Health, Canterbury DHB
  • University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA)
  • Event organisers
  • Council Events Team (CCC)
  • Council Policy Team (for obtaining the temporary bylaw approval)

What did the collaboration do?

Tri-agency personnel used both debrief and pre-application meetings with event organisers to identify and review problems. After the 2018 event, they asked the event organisers to apply earlier the following year so they could take actions to mitigate risk. Organisers were advised that the licence would be opposed if they were unwilling to makes changes.

For 2019, Police drove a strategy to make changes with support from licensing inspectors and public health personnel. They engaged with the licensee (event organisers) and UCSA to implement proactive, prevention-first approaches, which included:

  • providing bus transport to take students from the university campus to the event and a UCSA requirement that students could only travel to the event by bus
    conducting mandatory screening at bus entry to assess for intoxication (with entry refused for those who were intoxicated)
  • making higher-profile use of Red Frogs, a student group that provides and distributes free water and other hydration/sweets through the crowds at events; they also act as an intermediary between patrons and other supports such as security and first aid providers as needed
  • asking CCC to impose a temporary 24-hour alcohol ban in North Hagley Park on the day of the festival to stop preloading outside the event (people were unable to drink or carry alcohol in Hagley Park outside the festival gates); event publicity mentioned the ban and advised that Police may search bags, confiscate alcohol and stop people drinking in Hagley Park and in surrounding streets.

In 2018 the agencies had input into consultation to Council on the alcohol bylaws reviews, supporting Council’s approval of the ability to request temporary alcohol ban areas for certain types of large-scale events in Hagley Park. In 2019 the applicants for Electric Avenue requested the temporary ban, and this was the first time it was used by Council.

At the 2019 festival, the number of general police, medical staff, Red Frogs, and security officers on-site was increased. Christchurch police sent out a warning before the 2019 festival, reminding people to be aware of drug-taking risks, to watch alcohol intake and drink responsibly, and to take care of themselves and friends. The tri-agency licensing officers also undertook a coordinated monitoring operation on the day of the event.

Community and Public Health engaged St John and emergency departments to collate data on festival-related emergency department appearances and St John on-site management of alcohol- and drug-related issues.

What was the outcome?

There was a big reduction in intoxicated people arriving at the 2019 event. The event attracted about 15,000 people, the largest crowd in the event’s five-year history, despite bad weather. Yet the need for hospital treatment (for two people following suspected MDMA use) was much reduced compared with 2018.

Late on the event night, emergency services signalled that the festival “had gone off without a hitch”.

The process also prompted:

  • an ongoing relationship, understanding and open dialogue with the event organisers, who run multiple large events annually in Hagley Park
  • collaboration with St John and emergency departments on event monitoring to inform accurate assessment of future applications and event management.

Why it worked/What we learned

Work with event organisers focused on a prevention-first approach by considering and mitigating risk.

Effective elements included:

  • use of debriefs as a learning, improvement and feedback approach
    a range of complementary strategies including the Council’s new large-scale event liquor ban, reduction in the number of patrons who were intoxicated on arrival, and enhanced policing and security on-site
  • collaborative, focused monitoring by the licensing agencies
  • engagement with UCSA, who implemented additional controls for students, such as mandatory public transport to the event and the use of Red Frogs.

Mutual understanding of, and respect for, one another’s roles underpins effective tri-agency collaboration and joint work.

The goal is to be able to see others’ points of view and bring these perspectives together.

A failure to understand roles and recognise the validity of each agency’s perspective, and the wider needs of their organisations, is a recognised barrier to effective joint work.

In contrast, a tri-agency collaboration where the fundamentals of each agency’s roles and drivers are understood can draw on the complementary perspectives and different skills, experience and resources that each agency brings to planning and actions to reduce alcohol-related harm.

For example, health can bring a population health and disease prevention lens to joint work, while Police can offer understanding of legal options and ramifications.

Applying the different resources and abilities from each of the agencies underpinned the joint approach taken to address issues associated with the Electric Avenue festival.

All three regulatory agencies, working alongside the Council Events Team (and other parts of Council), event organisers and the university, implemented a multifaceted prevention-focused strategy to reduce issues.

Complementary capabilities also featured in management of alcohol-related harm in Canterbury sports clubs, where success was assisted by various partners having different contacts and communication channels.

Part B presents insights on effective collaboration, grouped into four main components:

B1 Shared purpose
B2 Strong relationships and good communication
B3 Effective community involvement
B4 A project-based approach 

A shared sense of purpose is fundamental to effective collaboration to reduce alcohol-related harm.

This position builds on a common view of priority issues and a sense of being ‘on the same side’ with respect to reducing these aspects of alcohol-related harm.

One aspect of the complex, multi-causal nature of alcohol-related harm is multiple perspectives on issues, success criteria, and effective and preferred approaches.

A simple overarching theme or intention that is relevant and appealing to all or most stakeholders can be used as a reference point in all work.

Examples of overarching intentions for reducing alcohol-related harm in different settings:

  • “A safe and healthy community, free from alcohol-related harm"
    • This is the vision of the Hastings District Council and Napier City Council Joint Alcohol Strategy: Reducing Alcohol Related Harm, 2017-2022. 
  • “Love our Place” This key theme was proposed to underpin work to develop an alcohol harm reduction plan for Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC).
    • This message reflected a commonly held stakeholder view of the region, despite different opinions on the cause of alcohol-related harm, and had the potential to be used broadly in community messaging about managing alcohol. 
  • Purpose: “To improve wellbeing in Nelson Tasman communities by preventing alcohol related harm/This is what we do:Identify priorities for action/Undertake projects/Review and evaluate change”
    • The Alcohol Harm Prevention Partnership Nelson Tasman* (AHPP) documents this purpose and function in its terms of reference under the overarching intention of “Improving wellbeing”
    • * includes regulatory agencies and other groups that have an active interest in preventing alcohol-related harm

A clearly recognised shared goal of reducing alcohol harm in sports settings and encouraging best practice in licensing underpinned in the following case study.

A shared overarching purpose in joint work to reduce alcohol-related harm does not preclude agency personnel holding different positions on specific issues. There are many examples where agencies have continued to work collaboratively while having on occasion taken different positions on specific cases or situations.


Case study: Reducing alcohol-related harm in Canterbury sports clubs

What was the identified or possible alcohol-related harm?
Issues in sports clubs related to sideline and changing room drinking were identified as negatively impacting on players, families and other sideline participants.

For some codes the lack of perceived safety was driving increased annual player turnover and limiting clubs’ ability to be family-friendly environments. Both impacted negatively on club sustainability and served as key drivers for clubs to work towards managing alcohol and related harm.

Particular issues in rugby league settings included three assaults during the 2018 season and threats by someone with a weapon. Around 75% of clubs were dealing with alcohol-related behaviour on sidelines including drinking at junior games, abuse directed towards other spectators, and officials and volunteers being challenged by people who had been drinking alcohol.

Who collaborated to address this?

Alcohol Licensing Officers and Alcohol Health Promoter at Community and Public Health, Canterbury DHB
Christchurch City Council (CCC) Licensing Inspector
Sport Canterbury and Healthy Families Ōtautahi (Christchurch)
Sports codes – clubs and senior personnel from each code (Chief Executive or other management)

Christchurch City Council Policy team (new bylaw development)

What did the collaboration do?


Workshops were piloted with rugby league clubs and extended to tennis, cricket, bowls and rugby codes. Workshops were developed and operated in a partnership between the local sporting organisation, Community and Public Health, Council Inspectors, Sport Canterbury and Healthy Families Ōtautahi.

The 90-minute workshops focused on improving club culture, reducing problematic drinking and providing a safe and supportive environment for families. Presenters also covered guidelines to assist club licence renewal and fielded multiple questions from the mixed audience of club coaches, bar managers/staff and committee members.

The newly released Te Hiringa Hauora Alcohol Game Plan resources were promoted at the workshops. Health and Council licensing staff jointly developed templates for club alcohol policies and club alcohol management plans, with examples, that could be readily completed by clubs. Council licensing personnel made themselves available on request to help develop policy and plan prior to club licence renewal applications.

Efforts to address alcohol issues in rugby league clubs were strongly supported by George Lajpold, Club Capability Manager at Canterbury Rugby League and Systems Innovator for Healthy Families Ōtautahi. Lajpold, a former New Zealand and Cook Islands rugby league representative, presented at workshops that enhanced confidence and interest from participating clubs. He was also instrumental in a Canterbury Rugby League submission to Christchurch City Council that led to the inclusion of rugby league sports fields in alcohol ban areas, firstly with a temporary ban in 2019 and then with a permanent ban in 2020 applying to all sidelines, changing rooms, carparks and children’s play areas.

Sport Canterbury contributed essential knowledge of sports code management contacts. Council licensing inspectors and public health licensing staff were familiar with individual clubs and personnel involved with club licensing applications. Healthy Families Ōtautahi was invaluable with its involvement and credibility with some sports codes. DHB health promotion personnel convened the collaborative process.

What was the outcome?

Workshops have been well received. Of just over 60 attendees at the first four workshops,[1] all reported that they found the workshops helpful and they understood more about “how to manage alcohol in our club”. Overall, 83% reported that they understood what was needed for club licence renewal and 95% reported feeling confident about what to do next.

At the project outset, 70% of rugby league clubs identified alcohol as a problem for their club and 75% reported sideline drinking as an issue.

With the alcohol ban in place, club members are now effectively monitoring rugby league games, with backup from the New Zealand Police (which has not been necessary to date).

The rugby league alcohol ban has been well received by clubs, which have experienced a reduction in alcohol-related incidents and an increase in bar takings as a result of drinking being shifted to club bars (average 134% increase across three clubs).[2]

Most rugby league clubs now have an alcohol policy and management plan in place. Other codes have taken longer to develop alcohol policies and management plans for various reasons including:

club alcohol policies and management plans not being a current legal requirement
high turnover of club volunteers, which means less familiarity with processes and good practice

clubs in general being more motivated to develop these documents when club licence renewals are due, to enable a smoother renewal process.

Why it worked/what we learned

Previous attempts to work with a single sports club had not been successful as the approach lacked the legitimacy offered by senior sports code personnel and broader organisational involvement.

Access to a champion added credibility to the process and enhanced club engagement; as a respected player, Lajpold was able to engage the audience on alcohol issues in league clubs.

Each partner brought their own speciality to the process. Public health personnel led discussions on culture change and CCC Licensing covered the requirements for renewing an alcohol licence. Sport Canterbury and Healthy Families Ōtautahi built on their existing relationships in clubs to get people to attend and engage.

Having both an alcohol ban and proactive club actions has prompted relatively rapid culture change in rugby league clubs. The shift in club approaches along with the inclusion of rugby league sports fields in alcohol ban areas provides a consistent message that negative behaviours related to alcohol are not tolerated.

The success of this approach was helped by each agency and sports code having the shared goal of reducing alcohol harm and having different contacts and communication channels. It was also helpful to have enforcement and monitoring roles involved; clubs are motivated by club licence renewals, which typically make a real difference to the financial viability of the club. 

B 1.2.1 Working with overarching plans to reduce alcohol-related harm

Ideally, joint regulatory agency/officer work in line with s295(b) aligns with and is included in an overarching plan to reduce alcohol-related harm for the region.

These local/regional approaches or plans identify issues, prioritise areas for attention and set out agreed goals for reducing alcohol-related harm.

The aim is a range of complementary approaches in a broad framework that reflects wider regional priorities related to alcohol-related harm.

Regulatory agencies and their wider organisations have a core role in this type of planning and strategising. Ideally, the process will also involve a broader group of stakeholders with an interest in reducing alcohol-related harm. This may include community, iwi, Māori organisations, health providers and other groups such as Healthy Families and ACC, etc.

A co-design approach to planning works well to create buy-in and build commitment from partners to achieve goals. Critically, it drives motivation and alignment of incentives.

It is likely that such an alcohol harm reduction plan will involve a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches in both alcohol licensing and other areas that work to reduce alcohol-related harm. For example, alcohol licensing actions will complement a range of other tools and approaches that may not be directly related to licensed premises, such as alcohol ban areas, built environments that foster safer drinking, and health promotion activities.

Alcohol Accords are an example of a subset partnership group working toward reducing alcohol harm. Accords may be hospitality led or may operate with a higher level of regulatory agency involvement. An Accord complements the regulatory environment that exists under New Zealand legislation. It is a proactive, non-regulatory way of bringing about safer streets, neighbourhoods and communities.


B 1.2.2 Individual regulatory agency plans

Overarching plans for alcohol harm reduction take a number of forms and are not intended to take the place of individual regulatory agency plans. Rather the aim is to complement these, focusing on areas where agencies can gain efficiencies and effectiveness through collaborative planning and service delivery.

Each agency will have its own respective priorities, but where there are mutual areas of interest, agencies can work jointly to more effectively address identified areas of alcohol-related harm.

For example, the Christchurch Alcohol Action Plan (CAAP)[1] states that the CAAP alcohol harm reduction approach sits alongside, and is not a substitute for, the statutory alcohol licensing system. The Police, licensing inspectors and Medical Officer of Health continue to exercise their statutory functions, duties and powers independently under the licensing regime prescribed in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

B 1.2.3 Plan delivery and ownership

Regulatory agencies will have a role in implementing an alcohol harm reduction plan even though some delivery will take place through other functional units within public health and the district health board (DHB), Council and Police, and through non-regulatory stakeholder organisations.

For example, a strategic objective in the CAAP to “Expand upon existing strategies to reduce harm within licensed environments” identifies such actions as:

  • Encourage all staff who sell or supply alcohol to complete the ServeWise online training
  • Work together with sports clubs to reduce alcohol-related harms
  • Continue to work with stakeholders in planning and managing large events.

At times, initiatives within these actions will engage some or all three agencies, other parts of their wider organisations and other relevant external stakeholders. Other initiatives may operate with a much smaller subset of that wider group.

The organisation primarily driving planning processes will vary between locations. Ideally, though, the finalised plan will be jointly owned at regulatory agency level, or a higher organisational partnership level for wider plans with non-regulated environment goals, as is the case with the CAAP.

For example, a 2017 strategic level overview completed as a first step towards developing an alcohol harm reduction plan for Queenstown Lakes District Council was primarily driven by the Council but with significant input from Public Health South and New Zealand Police, as principal partners, and consultation with licensees and a broad range of other stakeholders.

In another example, the non-government organisation Alcohol Healthwatch was the coordinating agency for the development of Action on Alcohol 2013–2018. This plan of action to reduce the harm from alcohol in Auckland resulted from collaboration between groups publicly funded to reduce alcohol-related harm in Auckland, including Auckland Regional Public Health, Hāpai Te Hauora, Police, Auckland Council and addiction services.


B 1.2.4 Respecting the boundaries of the Council Licensing Inspector role

Delivery of an alcohol harm reduction plan and its component actions needs to respect the boundaries of the Council Licensing Inspector role ie, the duties and functions the role is funded for and their requirement to act independently from their territorial authority. Nevertheless, the territorial authority needs to ensure the licensing inspectors are supported to undertake their roles, including under s295(b) and with agency alcohol harm reduction plans. However, there is scope for some support in other areas as evidenced in plans developed to date.

The Hastings District Council and Napier City Council Joint Alcohol Strategy: Reducing Alcohol Related Harm (2011, revised 2017) supports a combination of regulatory approaches and preventive and educational interventions. 

“While regulatory measures are important controls, social, economic, and cultural drivers are significant contributors to alcohol related harm – these drivers require often longer term educational and preventative interventions to make an impact. This strategy supports a mix of regulatory approaches with preventative and educational interventions that encourage collaboration amongst councils, government agencies, business and community.”

The Christchurch Alcohol Action Plan (CAAP)[1] provides a collective vision, strategies and actions aimed at achieving a sustained reduction in alcohol-related harm in the community.

Christchurch City Council (CCC), Canterbury District Health Board and New Zealand Police are the principal organisations leading the CAAP, which was developed with support from the Safer Christchurch and Healthy Christchurch interagency groups.

These three principal organisational partners have oversight of the programme of actions and priorities, and partner with other organisational parties interested and invested in achieving the collective vision. These organisations drive the linkages with community stakeholders and NGO agencies for work streams in the plan that are non-regulatory.

Alcohol licensing, enforcement and regulatory activities are only one of several roles in alcohol harm reduction within the ambit of each of the three principal partner organisations. In line with this, the plan’s main focus involves work outside the regulatory environment.

However, it also provides an opportunity to give visibility and recognition to the regulatory alcohol harm reduction work that was already undertaken or is planned by the regulatory agencies. For example, within the strategic intention to work with off-licensed premises to reduce alcohol-related harm, initiatives include conducting controlled purchase operations (CPOs), educating premises’ managers and staff, and communicating safe drinking messages to drinkers and hosts.