Hawke's Bay's Port Ahuriri School banned from selling alcohol at fundraiser

Parents at a Hawke's Bay school that's withdrawn an application to sell alcohol at a fundraiser say the school should be allowed to sell booze to raise money.

But the DHB says selling alcohol on school grounds sends the wrong message to children.

Port Ahuriri School has confirmed it has withdrawn its application to sell wine and beer at a fundraising Food and Music Festival, to the disappointment of parents.

"I think it's a real shame the school's unable to fundraise in this way," one told Newshub.

"It's really disappointing, and they've got other things they should be focusing on - not worrying about a couple of parents enjoying a glass of wine or a beer at what is a family-friendly event," said another.

The annual Food and Music Festival is a major fundraiser for the school, and obtained a special licence for more than a decade to sell alcohol there.

But the DHB has challenged the licence, with paediatrician and former Children's Commissioner Russell Wills saying alcohol shouldn't be sold in schools.  

"If we sell alcohol on school grounds on a school day, that sends a really powerful message to those children - and we know that means they're more likely to drink alcohol younger and harmfully."

He says thousands of schools manage to raise money without it.

"We think a school playground should be a safe place where the needs of children come first. Selling alcohol in an environment like that is not okay."

The Ministry of Health supports the DHB, saying strong consideration should be given to role modelling when children are present. 

It says emergency departments, mental health and addiction wards see the harm that can be caused by alcohol, and there are many fundraising options that school boards could consider as alternatives to alcohol.

"Some schools do sell alcohol off-site late at night, and we have no problem with that," says Mr Wills.

The school declined to talk to Newshub on camera, but says it's up to the parents and friends of the school to decide whether the event in November will still go ahead.