The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 gives communities the opportunity to object strongly and shout clearly: No more new alcohol licences in residential areas.
A new off-licence application has been granted for a site directly opposite a school gate. It does not make any sense. Not for communities surrounding Wickman Way, Mangere; not for the Southern Cross Campus; not for the five language nests; not for the St Therese Catholic Parish; and not for the kura kaupapa - all within 100m of this store.
The owner of the business at 1/131 Wickman Way, Mangere has been granted an application to upgrade to a full-strength liquor store.
This was approved by the district licensing committee on June 11.
The Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board lodged an objection based on the trouble the new licence would bring to the community, school and church, but specifically to the young people that live within 1km.
The board was compelled to object to the application. It was advertised in the Manukau Courier on January 7, during the school holidays when Southern Cross Campus was closed. Some within the community do not understand the technical process of lodging an objection.
In our objection, we highlighted the broad social issues in the area that alcohol contributes to. These include imprisonment, domestic violence, lack of educational achievement and comparatively high rates of youth suicide. We mentioned the alarming health statistics and high levels of deprivation and unemployment, despite Mangere's history, rich environment and culture.
Our strongest argument was this would be a time-bomb for the young people. We have a high proportion of young people compared with the Auckland region as a whole. Almost a third (30 per cent) are 15 or younger. The median age is 27.4 years, considerably younger that the regional median of 33.9.
We tried to convince the committee that a full-strength alcohol outlet would be a recipe for disaster. We lost.
The social cost on our struggling community will continue to triple.
How do we make these decision-making bodies realise their approval has an enormous effect on education, health, justice and housing budgets and workloads?
It is no secret young people are attracted to ready-to-drink mixes. They are popular in price, colour and their sweetness makes them easier to consume.
The episode of Nigel Latta's TVNZ show called Trouble with Booze that screened earlier this month contained a powerful message about the problems New Zealand continues to face.
New Zealand has a binge drinking culture. Young people are ruining their lives with too much access to purchasing and consuming alcohol. The growing groups mostly at risk are women and young people. And Latta said the young people who are drinking are getting younger - 12 and 13 years old, if not younger.
Our board was totally dissatisfied with the decision of the district licensing committee. We lodged an appeal to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority. We chose to battle on behalf of our community.
We have had our day in court, despite the many challenges. We await the judge's decision.
Lydia Sosene is chairwoman of the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board.