Treaty claim calls for alcohol reform
A claim before the Waitangi Tribunal is calling on the Government to raise the price of alcohol in an effort to curb the impact of drinking on the health of Maori.
In his claim, Maori warden David Ratu said the Government had breached the Treaty of Waitangi by not implementing recommendations laid out by the Law Commission in 2010.
The recommendations included increasing the price of alcohol, raising the drinking age to 20 and restricting alcohol advertising and sponsorship.
Ratu also objected to the Government failing to ensure the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act was consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi. Ratu, who works in south Auckland for the Turehou Maori Wardens ki Otara Charitable Trust, said he believed the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol in New Zealand was actively driving health inequalities between Maori and non-Maori.
‘‘I can say that the effects of alcohol and its consumption and supply have been a matter of concern to many of our Maori communities across the motu (island) for some time,’’ he said.
Ratu said he tried on several occasions to plead his case to police, council alcohol inspectors and lawyers at a number of hearings.
‘‘It all seemed, to me, to be falling on deaf ears so I decided that something had to be done,’’ Ratu said.
Regardless of the claim out- come, Ratu said he would continue to fight for fair alcohol laws.
Alcohol Healthwatch said hazardous drinking amongst Maori had increased, particularly for Maori women where problem drinking had jumped from 21 per cent in 2011, to 29 per cent in 2015. Ratu’s claim is endorsed by unique, given it was seeking changes to New Zealand’s key legislation regulating the sale and supply of alcohol.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said he was not aware of the claim and would not comment while it was before the Waitangi Tribunal.
Maori Warden David Ratu says he’ll take his fight for fair alcohol policy to international courts if he has to.