MEDIA RELEASE 16th January 2020

Nationwide research has revealed there is a mismatch between Kiwi’s perception and reality when it comes to their understanding of our drinking culture.

In its annual research into New Zealander’s attitudes toward alcohol, the NZ Alcohol Beverage Council (NZABC) found that what we see and hear about alcohol doesn’t always reflect the facts or reality.

“The research undertaken in late 2019 shows that nearly two-thirds of Kiwis didn’t realise drinking by 15-17 year-olds has dropped by a quarter in the past decade, and 75% didn’t know drink-driving convictions have halved during the same time,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.

New Zealand consumes less alcohol than the OECD average [I]. Yet, only half of Kiwis surveyed knew that we drink less than most other countries. New Zealanders are drinking less than people in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Ireland and France.

Eighty-seven per cent of Kiwis said that adults should be able to enjoy alcohol as part of a social occasion. But, a quarter didn’t realise that the majority (80%) of Kiwis drink moderately and responsibly.

“The majority of Kiwis drink responsibly, and as a nation, we are drinking less than ever before. But, we know there is still more work to be done to reduce alcohol-related harm. Having some facts about how our attitudes and behaviours are changing can act as a catalyst for encouraging discussions about alcohol and support further positive changes,” says Bridget.

The research also asked New Zealanders about what measures they thought would be effective in helping to reduce alcohol-related harm.

“Instead of demonising alcohol, we need an all-of-society effort to reduce alcohol-related harm, and 84% of New Zealanders agree with that approach. Kiwis support going about that in a sensible and pragmatic way – 81% agree that targeted support programmes are needed for harmful drinkers and 78% agree there should be alcohol education programmes in schools.

“New Zealanders are thinking about what they are drinking and how they are drinking – their personal circumstances, lifestyle and social situation – and now choosing more no- and low-alcohol beverages. It’s time we look at how we can accelerate the momentum for change towards a more social and safe New Zealand where Kiwis have a more respectful and informed relationship with alcohol,” says Bridget.


[i] Alcohol consumption is defined as annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person aged 15 years and older. The OECD average consumption is 8.9 litres/capita (aged 15 and over). New Zealand is at 8.8 litres/capita.