Boozing culture put to the test

By Jack Barlow

When Charmaine Taplin of Featherston reached her early 40s, she decided to give up alcohol.

For a while things weren't easy. Social situations were often awkward, hanging out with friends who were out drinking, and liquor in full flow.

The school teacher struggled for about a year - but then she heard about Hello Sunday Morning, a campaign designed to support people who want to cut back their drinking.

She found things became easier.

The Hello Sunday Morning organisation was to launch a campaign today with a range of celebrities, aiming to question New Zealand's binge-drinking culture and demonstrating that you don't need to be trashed to have a good night out.

"I grew up in a culture of drinking, and because of that I found it hard to find people to talk to about it," Mrs Taplin said.

"It was often quite difficult, because people often drink when they're out and I'm quite a social person ...

but that's the beauty of having a support network, other people have the same issues and you can talk it over with them."

Jazz Rowland, who is in charge of the New Zealand Hello Sunday Morning chapter, said she was hoping the movement would bring about a cultural shift in New Zealand. "I'm hoping we can bring about a change where it won't be so normal to be obliterated at 3am in the weekends," she said.

"You don't need alcohol to be yourself."

She said the movement wasn't about telling people not to drink, but letting people know that not-drinking was an option.

"Alcohol can drown people's dreams and stifle potential. We are about changing attitudes. We are about people making their own choices."

Today's launch was to take place in Auckland, with support from Dai Henwood, Mikey Havoc and Young New Zealander of the Year Sam Johnson, who will be doing the Hello Sunday Morning programme.

The website,, gives members profiles and blogs about the experience of people who have given up.

For Mrs Taplin, it has been a huge help.

"It's made all the difference," she said.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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