As it happened: Patrick Gower hosts Newshub Talks: Booze with high-profile expert panelists

Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower hosted Newshub Talks: Booze, a panel of high-profile Kiwis, health experts, alcohol lovers, and those who have sworn off the drink.

His documentary Patrick Gower: On Booze aired on Tuesday night and looked at both his and New Zealand's relationship with drinking. It is available to watch on ThreeNow.

New Zealanders including former All Blacks captain Kieran Read, science communicator Michelle Dickinson, and community leader Dave Letele joined Gower for the panel discussion.

What you need to know:

These live updates have finished.

9:48pm - That's it for Newshub Talks: Booze

You can watch the full Patrick Gower: On Booze documentary from Tuesday night on-demand at ThreeNow.

9:47pm - Lotta Dann said while parents are sending a bad message to their children by heavily drinking in front of them, they should think about the image they're presenting and what their children may be learning.

9:45pm - Lotta Dann said there's no wrong way to have a conversation with someone about their drinking.

Even if someone tries to tell their friend about how much they drink and they get shut down, it's still a big step - even if it wasn't as successful as they hoped.

9:43pm - Dave Letele said one way to help people is to cut back the number of liquor stores.

He compared buying alcohol in Remuera and Māngere, where it's "an experience" to buy it in Remuera, whereas it feels "like going to jail" in Māngere.

9:41pm - Dr Emma Schwarcz said some people will struggle with moderation. 

She said it's up to everyone to make their own decisions about their health behaviours, but some people do need help.

9:38pm - Living Sober community manager Lotta Dann said alcohol is pushed on parents, and especially mums, as a way of bonding with friends.

"Having a glass of wine at 5 o'clock works, it does what we want in the moment. It gives us relaxation," she said, but adds it just compounds the problem.

Dann said if people have a little voice in their head telling them they drink a lot, people should tune in and know that change is possible.

9:36pm - Michelle Dickinson said big alcohol brands offering zero alcohol alternatives is a good option.

On changes to how we see alcohol, Brodie Kane said having conversations like they are helps people look at their drinking.

9:32pm - Kieran Read shared a story after winning the Ranfurly Shield where he drank a lot, went back to the hotel, and woke up in the corridor in only his underwear with no idea where he was. He ended up having to go down to reception to get a key back to where he was.

In terms of alcohol advertising in sport, Read said clubs need money to survive and alcohol companies do provide this. He admits it is "dubious" how these businesses get this money, but clubs need it to survive.

9:28pm - Kieran Read is optimistic that people can change and get out of binge-drinking.

He said there is a choice and it's the biggest one people can make.

Brodie Kane said binge-drinking starts when you're young. When she was in high school, her and friends would wait outside liquor stores and ask people to buy them a bottle of absinthe.

9:26pm - 42 Below founder Geoff Ross said celebratory drinks on a Friday can be nice, as long as it doesn't spill into "Tuesday night drinks".

Matt McLaughlin also said if businesses were to ban Friday drinks, people should go to pubs where they will be looked after properly if they do drink.

9:23pm - Three in five Kiwis drink responsibly and Wellington hospitality operator Matt McLaughlin said going out and having a drink is part of life.

He said there is a place for drinking.

But Michelle Dickinson said there is no scientific report that will back drinking alcohol and that, for example, the idea that a glass of red wine is good for you.

"A lot of those stories you see are anecdotal," she said.

9:20pm - Michelle Dickinson has been sober for five years.

She made the decision after she drank a few glasses of wine at events - and these events were happening almost every night of the week.

She also had an experience when she was younger where she set fire to her arm while drunk, and only realised she had done this when she woke up the next morning.

9:17pm - Police assistant commissioner Chris de Wattignar said the Kiwi culture around drink-driving has shifted.

He said there's a range of factors that lead people to get behind the wheel while drunk, whether that's a lack of other transport or otherwise.

On a split drinking age - where people can drink beer at one age and liquor at a higher age - science communicator Michelle Dickinson said this can get a bit complicated.

"If you have drunk something, your brain naturally, because of how booze works on the brain, makes you overly confident, so you now think you can drive and you think your reactions are faster," she said.

9:13pm - Emergency medicine specialist Dr Vanessa Thornton and CADS clinical director Dr Emma Schwarcz are now joining the panel.

Dr Schwarcz said she hopes this discussion will help people come forward who may be addicted to alcohol.

On binge-drinking, Dr Thornton said she sees such significant and severe situations in her line of work, from car accidents, to assaults, to deaths.

"This is just a common, every day occurance in emergency departments and it's related to alcohol," she said.

9:07pm - Wellington hospitality operator Matt McLaughlin said pricing as well as accessibility is a big issue and something that needs to be looked at.

As a publican, he said he encourages people to drink on premises rather than elsewhere.

Dave Letele said it's a "disgrace" how many liquor stores are in deprived areas. In Māngere, there are 14, he said.

9:05pm - Dave Letele said people shouldn't be able to buy alcohol at supermarkets.

He said it shouldn't be put in a place where you can also buy food for your children.

Brodie Kane said she's noticed it's cheaper to buy alcohol than it is at duty free.

9:02pm - Broadcaster Brodie Kane said the access to alcohol is "actually ridiculous".

"Not only is it peak lazy, it's just dangerous," she said.

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read also agreed it was "ridiculous" how easy it was to get.

8:59pm - The panelists joining us now are Wellington pub owner Matt McLaughlin, broadcaster Brodie Kane, former All Blacks captain Kieran Read, and community leader Dave Letele. Police assistant commissioner Chris de Wattignar and Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Selah Hart are also on the panel still.

They're now talking about online deliveries of alcohol.

De Wattignar said it is an easy way for underage people to get alcohol.

"People would be horrified how easy it actually is and the lack of controls."

8:54pm - The panel is now discussing alcohol advertising.

42 Below founder Geoff Ross said alcohol doesn't really benefit from advertising and we could do without it.

Influence to drink alcohol comes from people's peers, not necessarily marketing, he added.

8:50pm - Assistant commissioner Chris de Wattignar said it's time for another review, since it's been 10 years since the last one.

Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Selah Hart said the normalisation and culture of alcohol in New Zealand means children are exposed to it young.

She shared how her grandfather was an alcoholic, meaning she was exposed to alcohol as a toddler.

"There are immediate impacts and effects of alcohol, but then there's life-long consequences," Hart said.

8:47pm - 42 Below founder Geoff Ross said he's in favour of the drinking age going back up to 20.

His reason is mainly health reasons.

TikTok influencer Georgia Awatea Jones also said it would be "good" if the age went up, but it would cause "riots" among 17-year-olds who are about to hit the legal drinking age.

"No matter what, young people are going to get their hands on alcohol," she said.

Science communicator Michelle Dickinson is also in favour of raising the drinking age so the brain isn't damaged at a younger age.

8:42pm - We've got the first line up of panelists tonight. They are 42 Below founder Geoff Ross, science communicator Michelle Dickinson, Police assistant commissioner - iwi and communities Chris de Wattignar, TikTok influencer Georgia Awatea Jones, TV personality Matt Chisholm, and Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Selah Hart.

Chisholm said he's "had thousands" of shocking nights of drinking. For him, drinking was "torturous". He was tired of beating himself up, hurting others, and letting himself down.

8:35pm - Newshub Talks: Booze is now underway.

We're starting off with Gower and RNZ presenter Corin Dann - the pair are good friends.

Gower swore off the drink in his documentary after a frank chat with Dann. It's now six months since the pair's conversation and Gower thanked Dann for his intervention.

"You have changed my life," Gower told Dann.

He said he's lost weight and is sleeping better after giving up drinking. He said he's now got control and he has "zest" back in his life.

Gower said he doesn't want to drink again.

8:10pm - The audience is starting to arrive for Newshub Talks: Booze.

8pm - Kia ora and welcome to Newshub's live updates for Newshub Talks: Booze, hosted by Patrick Gower.

The hour-long show will discuss a variety of topics, including the drinking age, if there are too many bottle shops, and New Zealand's binge-drinking culture.

There are 14 panelists. They are:

  • RNZ presenter Corin Dann
  • Broadcaster Brodie Kane
  • Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read
  • TV personality Matt Chisholm
  • Science communicator Michelle Dickinson
  • Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Selah Hart
  • CADS clinical director Dr Emma Schwarcz
  • Police assistant commissioner - iwi and communities Chris de Wattignar
  • Living Sober community manager Lotta Dann
  • 42 Below founder Geoff Ross
  • Wellington hospitality operator Matt McLaughlin
  • TikTok influencer Georgia Awatea Jones
  • Emergency medicine specialist Dr Vanessa Thornton
  • Community leader Dave Letele.