The dispute over a Flaxmere bottle store's bid to renew its liquor licence has continued, with a public hearing scheduled for the near future, in an attempt to come to a resolution.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board's Medical Officer of Health considered Flaxmere Liquor's renewal application and had "not identified any concerns under the criteria for objection as set down within the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012".
A DHB spokeswoman said the Medical Officer of Health has, however, "recommended the District Licensing Committee consider a public hearing to allow any concerned members of the community to express their views".
But some say this is not enough.
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and community leader, Des Ratima filed one of three official objections, noting the damage alcohol causes as a legalised drug to both families and the wider community.
"The more sites like this that get opened up and are allowed to stay open, the more normal it appears to our younger people.
"If it is not challenged, then our people will see it as being normal and therefore okay, so if you want to change behaviour, then you have to look at it from the point of view that it is not normal."
Hastings District Councillor Henare O'Keefe also objected, saying "we can't just bend over and allow an application just to slip through".
"We all know the ramifications of alcohol, so somewhere along the lines we need radicals like myself that will go against the orthodox, go against the norm and make a stand."
Recently, fellow councillor Jacoby Poulain sat outside the liquor store in question and watched "carload after carload of customers pull up to purchase".
She found the store to be busy.
"Couple this scene with the sales from the supermarket [New World Flaxmere] and the nearby Tavern [The Flax] and in my opinion that's a lot of alcohol being sold and consumed. Profit is being made off these sales.
"Personally I would like to see more being given back to the community for harm education and positive community initiatives from the profit of all sales and more oversight of the wider impacts upon the community."
New World Flaxmere owner-operator, Chris Hart said they strongly believe that having a liquor licence is a "privilege not a right and we go to extensive efforts to offer products in a safe and legal environment".
New World is part of a sensible drinking campaign in conjunction with Cheers NZ called "Always Graze When You Liaise" featuring William Waiirua.
The campaign focused on making good choices and always eating while drinking, he said.
The District Licensing Committee was unable to comment prior to the hearing.
The Eastern District Alcohol Harm Reduction team was aware of the application and said there has been no objection by police.
"As the matter remains before the District Licensing Committee it would not be appropriate for police to comment further," a police spokeswoman said.
The Hastings District has 91 off-licences, not confined just to the central/town areas. Off-licences are broken down into several types:
12 Bottles stores in the district (one of which is in Flaxmere)
39 Cellar Door Wineries
2 Club off licences
9 Grocery Stores
3 Off Taverns (one of which is in Flaxmere)
17 Remote Sales Premises
5 Supermarkets (one of which is in Flaxmere)