A Kaikohe man has lost his bid to reduce alcohol sales hours in the Far North.
Late last year retired farmer Shaun Reilly, 83, took on the combined might of the alcohol industry and the Far North District Council in an appeal before the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) over off-licence hours.
The council had originally proposed cutting off-licence hours from the current maximum of 7am-11pm to 9am-10pm.
That was opposed by the two big supermarket chains, Progressive and Foodstuffs, as well as Hospitality NZ, which argued that the proposed new hours were too restrictive and there was no evidence that reducing off-licence hours, especially in the morning, would reduce alcohol-related harm.
The council backtracked on its proposal but it still went to an ARLA appeal because of Reilly's opposition.
Reilly, however, argued the proposal wasn't restrictive enough, and wanted alcohol trading hours cut to 10am-7pm, saying making drink less available would reduce crime and domestic violence.
He was assisted by former council staffer Jane Johnston and backed in the December 13-15 appeal hearing by the district health board and Northland police.
In a recently released decision, ARLA rejected Reilly's appeal, saying the proposal to ban bottle stores and supermarkets from selling alcohol before 9am was a ''disproportionate response'' to the problem of alcohol-related harm in the Far North.
Reilly's proposal for 10am opening was likewise disproportionate, especially given that most alcohol-related harm occurred between 4pm and 4am.
ARLA ordered the Far North District Council back to the drawing board to reconsider the off-licence opening hours set out in its Provisional Local Alcohol Policy.
Mr Reilly said he was ''disappointed but not surprised'' by the outcome of his David v Goliath battle.
''They haven't listened to the voice of the community. They acknowledge harm but they aren't prepared to do anything about it.''
Even if he had won, however, ARLA would have sent the proposal back to the council for reconsideration.
Reilly said he wasn't about to give up. The appeal had been worthwhile because it had brought out "a wealth of evidence" that hadn't previously been considered.
The issue was also due to be reconsidered by councillors today .
The council has been trying to develop a Local Alcohol Policy since 2014.
The previous year, following public concern in places like South Auckland about the proliferation of liquor stores, the Government gave local authorities the right to set their own alcohol rules.
Most attempts around the country, however, have been mired in legal challenges ever since.