Disappointed Wanaka bar operators have been given a
resounding ''no'' to requests for special liquor licences at
Easter, leaving a 50,000-strong Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow
crowd with nowhere to drink in the resort unless they are
The Queenstown Lakes District Licensing Committee refused
special licence applications for Good Friday and Easter
Sunday from eight Wanaka bars and one Queenstown bar at
hearings in Frankton on Monday and Wanaka yesterday.
The applications had been opposed by Public Health South
medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell and Sergeant Linda
Stevens, of Queenstown police, who said despite claims to the
contrary, the bars were essentially proposing ''business as
usual'', not genuine events as required for special licences
under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
Kai Whakapai Cafe and Bar co-owner Roger North, who had
applied for a special licence revolving around 20th
anniversary celebrations of his business, said the process
had been onerous and intimidating for what he considered a
small application for something minor on two days of the
''It certainly won't be worth applying in the future and
feeling like a defendant in a courtroom.''
Wanaka's Speight's Ale House co-owner Grant Lawrie was also
unlikely to apply in the future.
''I don't see there's any point ... [New Zealand's new
alcohol legislation] put a lot more power in the local
territories to control their own liquor licensing area, which
gave us a wee bit of hope that they might have looked at
understanding what was going to happen around the place
[events], but once again ... there was no change.''
While Bullock Bar and Luggate Hotel co-owner Sean Colbourne
was also disappointed by the refusal, he did not feel
''victimised'', since the same ruling had applied ''across
He remained hopeful of future changes to Easter trading
restrictions in Wanaka.
Post Office Lane bars manager Tom Wild said Wanaka businesses
relied heavily on seasonal trends, particularly Easter, which
came immediately before a long, quiet shoulder season.
Warbirds provided an opportunity for bars to ''showcase''
Wanaka as an attractive tourist destination to the thousands
of visitors in the area.
However, because people wanting a night out would be denied
that option and restaurants allowed to trade would struggle
to cope with the huge numbers, visitors were likely to form a
negative opinion of their time in Wanaka, Mr Wild said.
It seemed inconsistent that Post Office Lane bars Woody's and
Barluga had been granted special licences during the 2012
Warbirds, when there was ''substantially less'' entertainment
than the three-day ticketed music event proposed this Easter,
However, licensing committee chairman and retired district
court judge Bill Unwin noted at yesterday's hearing that was
before the new alcohol Act came into effect.
''We appear to have been asked to ignore the law,'' Mr Unwin
said in summing up the applications.
''If the Act is going to be ignored on a wholesale basis,
then it loses its integrity, it loses its respect and there's
not much point in having an Act.''
Wanaka bars had tried to ''dress up'' their applications as
separate events to cater for the large Warbirds crowd, yet in
reality, there would be ''no significant differences'' in the
food, drinks, ambience and music provided at those events
compared with regular trading days.
Evidence for that could be found in the ''dulling sameness''
of the applications, the intention to trade for a large part
of the prohibited days rather than a ''gentle intrusion'',
the lack of significant entry fees for the bars' proposed
events and the fact licensees had made no attempts to
co-ordinate with Warbirds' organisers.
Bar operators had two years between each airshow to plan a
complementary event and Mr Unwin hoped for a ''much more
significant form of co-operation so there will be an event
within the event'' in future.
The only special licence approved during the hearings was an
extension to LaLaLand Wanaka's usual trading hours on Easter
Monday to host a function for the resort's hospitality
workers. However, strict conditions included a one-hour
extension instead of the 2.5 hours applied for.