A Hastings District councillor says he is prepared to go to prison for not paying court costs for a case he lost.

Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe and Des Ratima, Takitimu District Māori Council chair, were ordered to pay $8194.15 to Flaxmere Liquor after they took a High Court case against the company to try to prevent its licence renewal.

The case fell over when O'Keefe and Ratima failed to provide affidavits from Hawke's Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) and the New Zealand Police. Justice Jan-Marie Doogue ordered the costs be paid in December.

O'Keefe said he should not need affidavits from the police and the DHB to proceed with the case.


"We have evidence on every street corner in New Zealand."

He said the number of alcohol related incidents appearing in court and the number of road deaths relating to alcohol were all reasons the case should have been heard in the High Court.

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"That's what this approach is, it's a cry for help."

He told Hawke's Bay Today he would sooner go to jail than pay the costs.

"I'm more than willing to go to prison."

He claimed HBDHB's Medical Officer of Health had promised an affidavit, but this is disputed by the DHB, who said they had limited legal scope to fight the licence renewal.

The Flaxmere Liquor Centre which is at the centre of the controversy. Photo / File
The Flaxmere Liquor Centre which is at the centre of the controversy. Photo / File

A DHB spokesperson said the Medical Officer of Health had never agreed to sign the affidavit, and had limited legal scope to oppose Flaxmere Liquor's licence renewal, because the company had complied with its licence conditions.


"However, it did advocate for a public hearing so people could voice their concerns.

"It also supported the hearing by providing the DHB's latest health inequities and hazardous drinking statistics for Hawke's Bay."

Flaxmere Liquor director Sukhpal Singh referred Hawke's Bay Today to his lawyer, who has been unable to be reached for comment.

In July last year, Napier and Hastings councils passed a joint local alcohol policy which includes a "sinking lid" policy in Flaxmere, Camberley and Maraenui, meaning while licences can be renewed, no new licences can be issued.

It also shortens the length of time on and off-licensed premises can be open by and their hours.

However, O'Keefe said although he supported the changes, he had seen little impact in preventing alcohol related harm in Flaxmere.


He said if he had the ability, he would go back to 6 o'clock closing, prevent the sale of alcohol on Sunday and remove alcohol from supermarkets.