Theatre-based education programmes are in and peer pressure is out as high school students welcome a new concept to counter peer pressure to drink alcohol.
Aimed at Year 9 students, Smashed, which was established in the United Kingdom in 2005, has been brought to New Zealand as part of responsible drinking initiative The Tomorrow Project and is being delivered by the Life Education Trust.
The Bay of Plenty performances are being supported by TECT.
Performances, featuring a play about a group of young friends who find themselves in trouble as a result of drinking alcohol, was held in Tauranga high schools on August 5 to August 7.
Each performance was followed by an interactive workshop where pupils were invited to probe the cast on issues brought up during the play and discuss the consequences of underage drinking.
Year 9 Aquinas College student Amy Trott said the performance was fun and interesting yet it was the statistics which intrigued her most.
"I even wrote some of them down, like 1500 young 13 to 14-year-olds end up in hospital in New Zealand every year due to alcohol-related accidents.
"That was pretty surprising."
Tomorrow Project spokesman Matt Claridge said establishing the Smashed programme in New Zealand was an exciting opportunity to address the issue of under-age drinking as well as encourage a responsible approach to alcohol as adults.
"We know from our own research the younger the people are when they begin drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to develop poor drinking behaviours later in life and this is a pattern that we are looking to change."
Life Education Trust chief executive John O'Connell said Smashed represented the organisation's first foray into secondary schools.
"We're delighted we have the opportunity to work with youth and support them with a programme that has a proven track record internationally."
Year 9 Aquinas College student Charlotte Mitchell said she would recommend the play after involving herself in the workshop following the play.
Dean of Year 9 Jacq Burrell believed the theme of the performance was a topical issue.
"I thought it was an engaging way of getting across some really important messages.
"It was very detailed and I think it's something the kids will reflect on in the coming days."