A Dunedin bar known for its boozy behaviour is indicative of the worrying attitude to drinking and the binge mentality we have in this country.

Heff's Hotel has been in the news for being in trouble over a gang wake and opening on Christmas Day. Its latest skirmish involves a drunk staff member serving punters, while intoxicated himself.

When police arrived at the pub, after an anonymous tip-off, the staffer was slurring his words, unsteady on his feet and accused police of being out to f***ing get him.

It wasn't just the staff member who was drunk, punters were too: one flashed the officers, another threatened to urinate on a police car, one was incapable of using his cellphone, and another got aggressive over not being able to use the toilet.


Police have now applied to have the bar's licence cancelled, saying that every time they've entered that bar there's been incidents - and that it's the only bar in the South Island they've tried to shut down.

A decision is due in a few weeks on its fate.

The publican in question though has been previously suspended over a series of incidents, most notably hosting a wake for a formal Mongrel Mob member.

This publican defended "having a drink" as he put it, with his punters, and described the latest incident as "a normal Saturday night".

And therein lies the problem.

Firstly, it's not just "having a drink", it's having way too many drinks, and secondly - how is this characterised as "normal"?

If that's normal, we're in big trouble.

A binge drinking culture whereby aggression and law breaking becomes part of the mix, is not a healthy path to be on for anyone. It's a lose-lose.


We look to our bars, hotels, and hosts of any kind of premises with alcohol for that matter, to show responsibility and leadership.

To abide by the law, to keep punters safe, to not put them in more danger.

There is nothing wrong with a few drinks on a Saturday night, but our attitudes to alcohol and why we're drinking need looking at.

Being hammered while serving customers and abusing police is not a "normal" Saturday night.

We are all responsible for our own actions yes, but publicans leading the way by example would be a good start.

Anyone with a bar licence who doesn't get that deserves to have it cancelled.