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Alcohol use in New Zealand

  • 4 in 5 adults (79%) consumed alcohol in the past year (2017/18 data). Alcohol consumption is highest in men (83%), those identifying as European/Other (85%) or Māori (80%), and people living in the least deprived neighbourhoods (86%).
  • 1 in 4 (25%) past-year drinkers have drunk hazardously in a way that can harm themselves or others.
  • When looking further into hazardous drinking:
    • Men are twice as likely as women to be hazardous drinkers
    • 1 in 2 Māori men who drink and 1 in 3 Māori women who drink are hazardous drinkers
    • 2 in 5 young adults drink hazardously
    • Pasifika and Asian men and women are the least likely to drink alcohol but hazardous drinking is high among Pasifika who do drink
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men did not consume alcohol in the past year (2017/18). Asian (44%) and Pacific (46%) adults are more likely to be non-drinkers, along with 15-17 year-olds and people 75 years and over. One-third of adults living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are non-drinkers.

Source: New Zealand Health Survey 2017/18.

Availability of alcohol

  • 35 million litres of pure alcohol were available for consumption in 2018 – an average of two standard drinks per person a day.
  • Over the last ten years, pure alcohol available for consumption in New Zealand has decreased slightly for beer (0.5% decrease), but has increased for spirits (35% increase), spirit-based drinks (22% increase), and wine (7% increase).
  • In 2016, New Zealanders consumed 10.7 litres of pure alcohol per person (15+). This is similar to Australia, lower than the United Kingdom, and higher than the United States and Canada (WHO, 2016 data).

Note: Pure alcohol is the term used for ethanol and is measured so that different types of alcoholic beverages with different alcohol content can be compared. For example, a one litre bottle of vodka with an alcohol content of 40% contains 400ml of pure alcohol; a 750ml bottle of 12.5% wine contains 94ml of pure alcohol.


  1. 1Statistics New Zealand (n.d.). Alcohol available for consumption: Year ended December 2018
    2.World Health Organization. Total consumption with 95%CI by country (2016). 

Harms from drinking alcohol

  • In 2007, around 800 deaths of New Zealanders aged 0-79 years were attributable to alcohol, representing 5.4% of all deaths under 80 years old.
  • 43% of all deaths attributed to alcohol are due to injuries, 30% to cancer and 27% to a variety of other chronic diseases
  • Over twice as many deaths are seen in men as women – 23 deaths per 100,000 for men compared to 10 deaths per 100,000 for women.
  • The death rate for Māori is disproportionately higher – 34 deaths per 100,000 for Māori compared to 14 deaths per 100,000 for non-Māori.
  • Alcohol is known to be a factor in 1 in 5 fatal crashes between 2015 and 2017. It is also a factor in 15% of serious injury crashes and 10% of minor injury crashes.
  • 2 in 5 violent interpersonal offences in 2014 are known to involve alcohol with either the offender, the victim or both drinking at the time of the offence. Women (30%) are less likely than men (51%) to be the victim where they and/or the offender had been drinking. Alcohol is also involved in 1 in every 3 family violence incidents in 2018.


  1. World Health Organization (n.d.). Alcohol.
  2. Connor, J.,Kydd,R.,Shield,K.,& Rehm, J. (2013). Alcohol-attributable burden of disease and injury in New Zealand: 2004 and 2007. Research report commissioned by the Health Promotion Agency. Wellington: Health Promotion Agency.
  3. Ministry of Transport. 2015-17 administrative data.
  4. Ministry of Justice (n.d.). New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2014 - Involvement of alcohol in violent interpersonal offences.
  5. Ministry of Justice (n.d). New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey 2018 - Selected drivers of family violence.