Kiwi binge drinking condemned by Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church has made a public statement condemning New Zealand's binge-drinking culture and calling for effective government policies to combat it.
Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, the Right Rev Andrew Norton, says the church isn't against alcohol and the community must play a role in providing alcohol-free activities for young people.
But he says the drinking age should to be increased to 20 and effective government policies that reduce the availability of alcohol are needed.
Council by-laws that address alcohol consumption are also important.
"A big part of the problem is that binge drinking has become normalised in New Zealand," he said in a statement.
"Birthdays are synonymous with heavy drinking with yard glasses being a common right-of-passage, drinking games that encourage drinking for the sake of getting drunk are common-place, and national events that urge participants to drink heavily are considered acceptable by many," he said.
Around New Zealand, Presbyterian churches are already working alongside local councils, schools and other community organisations to offer a wide variety of family-friendly options for young people and their families, but there is room to do more, he says.
He wants more "dry" all-ages community and neighbourhood events to be held to address the mind-set that alcohol needs be present.
"The church isn't against alcohol, rather we advocate for a responsible attitude to drinking to bring about better outcomes for young people, their families and the wider community".
In May, the New Zealand Medical Association said the government needed to intervene more heavily in the liquor industry for the nation's collective health.
It recommended raising the drinking age to 20, introducing a minimum price for alcohol, increasing the alcohol excise tax by 50 percent, and phasing out liquor advertising and sponsorship.