The owners of a Flaxmere liquor store that faced strong opposition against their now-successful bid to renew their licence believe the process, which has cost them $16,000, was "unnecessary" and a "personal attack".
But those opposing the decision say they will continue to object to the sale of liquor in the low socio-economic area and are considering further legal options.
On Wednesday, the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority renewed Flaxmere Liquor's licence until September 25, 2021, on its existing conditions, despite Flaxmere (2008) Liquor Limited director's, Sukhpal and Chamkaur Singh, offering to reduce their opening hours.
Authority chairman, Judge Kevin Kelly, said the authority was not satisfied that renewing the licence would increase the risk of alcohol-related harm.
However, Kelly said the authority was concerned that staff training seemed to be "little more than discussions at staff meetings and shift handovers", and that Chamkaur has not had any further training since he obtained his qualifications.
"[This is an] area of weakness and also somewhat diminishes the applicants' suitability," Kelly said, but given that there have been no issues in recent times, the authority was "satisfied that the applicants have appropriate systems, staff and training in place, albeit in need of refresher training".
Sukhpal Singh, who lives outside of the region, says the process has been "very expensive", with legal fees for their lawyer, Previnder Kaur, and travel expenses mounting.
However, Singh says he does not plan on recuperating the costs, saying he wants to "get on with his life".
"We knew that we would get a new licence because we have been operating since 2008, and we've got no criminal history - no nothing."
He doesn't understand why Hastings councillor for Flaxmere and Hastings Ambassador Henare O'Keefe hadn't objected to other stores, just Flaxmere Liquor.
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The Singhs' business advisor Dave Porteous said he had assured them that they "always made it clear their concerns were about alcohol, and the use of alcohol, not about their specific premise".
O'Keefe, who had argued that it was morally and ethically wrong to have three bottle stores in such a small community, said it is "very disappointing".
"I can't help thinking it was always going to be a foregone conclusion and as far as the judiciary is concerned it is more of the same old same old.
"Until we have a judiciary that's willing to be brave and courageous and with a willingness to push the boundaries, we're always going to be pushing the proverbial uphill with a pointed stick."
O'Keefe said he had pleaded with Judge Kelly at the hearing, held in April to be "bold and courageous", but says "those words have fallen on deaf ears".
He said Kelly has made a "Godless and unempathetic decision".
"I cannot see the voice of the community, the cry of the community as being acknowledged in this decision."
At the hearing, O'keefe and Takitimu District Māori Council chairman and Flaxmere kaumatua Des Ratima, represented by lawyer Janet Mason, argued Treaty of Waitangi principles should apply to the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act given 58 per cent of the community was Māori.
However, O'Keefe said Kelly has "totally ignored" this argument, which he says has come out of the University of Otago that argues in terms of liquor licensing research, the "rhetoric, with Maoridom, has been very very light".
O'Keefe, along with Ratima, said they are looking at undertaking a judicial review, and are also opposing Flaxmere Tavern's off-licence.
Ratima said it highlighted how difficult it is to oppose a submission.
"It just shows, that in my belief, they should have discretion on top of legislation and I think that's what law is about.
Ratima said it is "absolutely appalling" that the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, along with the police did not object, despite being vocal on alcohol issues in the past.
If they had objected, Ratima believes, along with their "strong argument", it would have tipped the decision in their favour.
HBDHB Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rachel Eyre, said the DHB is committed to reducing alcohol-related harm in all communities and welcomes the opportunity to actively work with concerned Flaxmere leaders on ways to achieve this, such as working towards the adoption of a Local Alcohol Policy (LAPs).
"Local Alcohol Policies allow councils to develop a set of rules, in consultation with their communities, about the location, number and even the trading hours of local alcohol businesses within geographical areas," said Eyre.
"LAPs work well in other parts of New Zealand the DHB is encouraged that Napier and Hastings councils are working incredibly hard on a joint LAP, which will give communities more of a say."
Eyre says the DHB had limited legal grounds to object to the existing Flaxmere Liquor off-licence renewal under criteria set down within the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 because the licence holder had complied with their obligations under the Act.
However, it did advocate for a public hearing so people could voice their concerns.