A small North Island town which has banned alcohol consumption in the streets may have to lift the prohibition as it can't prove harm has been prevented.

With the Tararua District Council's liquor ban bylaw expiring on December 18, the council will have to provide evidence to justify its continuation.

Peter Wimsett, council manager of strategy and district development, is working with Senior Sergeant Jymahl Glassey of the Tararua police on statistics needed to keep the bans in place.

"In 2013 the Local Government Act 2002, section 147, was amended with the requirements now more onerous than when our present bylaw was established," Wimsett said.

One of those clauses says, "crime or disorder that can be shown to have been caused or made worse by alcohol consumption in the area concerned".


Currently there are liquor bans in place in Dannevirke's CBD and the areas bounded by Miller, Queen, Swinburn and Waterloo streets.

The additional areas in Dannevirke covered are High St from Swinburn St to Christian St and Christian St from High St to George, Manila, Madrid, Maine and York streets, as well as the Domain, with the exception of the Camping Ground.

There is also a ban imposed at Akitio from noon on December 24 through to 7am, January 3, from the bridge and along to the southern end of the esplanade.

Pahiatua also has a wide-ranging liquor ban in place.

"The problem is the original concept of the bylaw," Wimsett said.

"It gave guidelines to police to issue warnings, but it was in place in anticipation crime may have occurred. To have the bylaw now, there has to be a reason."

Wimsett said police have found the liquor ban bylaw a useful tool in controlling situations.

"But we have no way of measuring warnings given out by police," he said.

"A group of people may have been moved on, with no further action. Those incidents won't show up in statistics."


After December 18, the current ban areas in Dannevirke, Akitio and Pahiatua will no longer apply and the signs will have to be removed.

Former police officer and chairman of the Dannevirke Community Board Ross MacDonald said it could be a case of the chicken and the egg.

"The situation could be that crime isn't happening because of the liquor ban," he said.

Richard Taylor, the council's governance manager, said police were behind the liquor ban bylaw being put in at first.

"No charges have been laid under it, but it is a deterrent in their toolbox," he said.

District councillor Alison Franklin said she was concerned the bylaw had no teeth.

"We can't measure if the ban has stopped people drinking in a public place," she said.

"We don't know because we had no measurements in the first place."

Wimsett said the bylaw pitted individual rights against the rights of the community.

"We've got to demonstrate and prove the need for the bylaw, rather than trying to anticipate the need," he said.

Wimsett also warned councillors that a review by the New Zealand Drug Foundation in 2017 reported legal challenges of local alcohol polices on councils around the country were being consistently pursued by the alcohol industry and incurring significant cost to some councils.