Liquor licence bid raises concerns

The police, the medical officer of health and the licensing inspector will oppose the renewal of...
The police, the medical officer of health and the licensing inspector will oppose the renewal of Mornington Thai’s liquor licence at a district licensing committee hearing in Dunedin tomorrow. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Questions have been raised about who is actually in control of a Mornington restaurant, after its owner applied for the renewal of its alcohol licence.

The Dunedin District Licensing Committee meets tomorrow to decide if Mornington Thai, in Mailer St, should have its sale and supply of alcohol on-licence renewed.

The applicant is not seeking any change to the licence and the application did not attract any public objections.

However, all three reporting agencies — police, the medical officer of health and the licensing inspector — have opposed the renewal of the licence.

The applicant, Pride Thai Ltd, has a single director and shareholder, Sonthaya Nongyang, and this is the first renewal of the licence which was issued in January 2023.

The licensing inspector said there was no evidence of alcohol being sold or supplied in an "unsafe or irresponsible manner", but they did have concerns about the ownership of the business and the relationship between the people involved.

One of the people who appeared to be involved with the day-to-day running of Mornington Thai, was an operator of Eleven Bar in the Octagon which had its licence cancelled in July 2023.

The inspector was also concerned about the poor knowledge of the restaurant’s responsibilities as a licensee and the contents of its host responsibility policy.

Ms Nongyang and two of her leading staff could not explain the signs of intoxication or the accepted forms of identification.

The inspector said it was difficult to assess suitability when other people were answering questions on her behalf.

When asked about training records, they could not be produced by the applicant.

The inspector questioned whether the applicant had appropriate systems, staff and training at the premises.

The medical officer of health (MoH) had the same concerns.

"The MoH learned that the applicant spends the majority of her time in the kitchen and relies on others to look after the alcohol service, which was not acceptable."

The police investigator expressed concern about the ownership of the business and the involvement of the previous two owners.

The licensing of the restaurant in January 2023 was challenged because of Ms Nongyang’s poor knowledge of her responsibilities as well as the "basic" indicators of intoxication and forms of acceptable identification.

All three agencies still believe she does not have appropriate systems, staff or training to comply with responsibilities as set out in the legislation.

Tomorrow’s hearing will be an opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate that she is a suitable applicant and responsible for her business.