The Napier District Licensing Committee may find itself between a rock and a hard place in determining whether Port Ahuriri School can continue to sell liquor at its Food and Music Festival.

On principle, communities across the country would tend to be aghast that such refreshments may be able to be dispensed just a few metres from kids playing on the monkey bars and jungle gyms of the school precinct.

But, it is, sadly, the way it is, for the situation is that even schools have to resort to the accessing the proceeds of liquor sales and gambling to be able to go the extra kilometre in educating the nation's children and preparing them for the rocky roads of the future.

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Opposition to alcohol at school Food and Music Festival


Add to the list everything from sports clubs to ambulances, firefighting services and blind and deaf foundations and thousands of other vital parts of the community and social fabric all screaming out for financial sustenance, primarily because of a lack of foresight and gumption among the nation's leaders.

It goes back a long, long time, particularly for the recreational pursuits of the populace, seen for centuries, and possibly still seen, as simply private entertainment, just like having a beer of banging a few bucks on the gee-gees.

Politicians have been ones for the main chance in this arena — once cynically said to have been men paying dues to wives more interested in, say, the ballet than the football — and have found booze and gambling funds a handy substitute in avoiding dipping into Government coffers to prop-up what society is more and more recognising as vital cogs in our wheels of life.

The modern form of this, the pokie machine, perhaps has some origins as a charitable fundraising in the 1932 government appointment of a couple of guys named Neil McArthur and Bertie Hammond to run national lotteries. Art Unions they were called, later Golden Kiwi, now Lotto and the scratchies.

The profits from each lottery, at one stage the Golden Gift, would then be distributed through Government avenues to worthy community projects.

While there remains a need to fund extended activities of our schools and the non-for-profit sector from booze and liquor sales, in apparent disregard of the value of the services being provided, then public good of opposition to the events and methods, sometimes highly illegal but commonly acceptable as they may have been at times over the years, has to be balanced against the need.