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Prof Kypros Kypri, of the University of Otago department of preventive and social medicine, said legislation introduced in 2012 had aimed to ''improve community input into local alcohol licensing decisions''.
However, the study, published yesterday in ''Drug and Alcohol Review'', showed the outcome for Maori groups surveyed was ''worse than just being ineffective'', Prof Kypri said.
''It's bad if it's ineffective.
''It's worse if you're wasting a lot of people's time and making them more cynical about the democratic process,'' he said.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (2012) said input would be sought from communities on decisions about alcohol.
Prof Kypri, who was the study's first author, said that Maori had engaged ''in good faith by making detailed submissions requiring technical expertise''.
But the information which researchers received from interviews and submissions made by iwi, hapu and Maori service providers indicated that local government often did not seem to engage meaningfully with the content of their submissions.
Local government also ''failed in many instances to update participants'' on further progress with the consultation process.
By contrast, the alcohol industry seemed ''to have quite a cozy relationship with the decision-makers''.
''It seems that by devolving responsibility for the responsibility of liquor licensing to local government, the Crown has sidestepped its Treaty obligations,'' Prof Kypri said.
The research was supported by the Health Research Council.
The paper also called for legislative change to ensure councils undertook genuine consultation to develop Local Alcohol Policies (LAPs).