Hapu Hauora
What is alcohol?

Alcohol is the ingredient found in beer, wine and spirits.  It is formed when yeast ferments (breaks down without oxygen) the sugars in different food.  For example, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley (a type of grain), cider from the sugar in apples, vodka from the sugar in potatoes, beets or other plants.  

Alcohol is a depressant drug.  It slows down various sections of the brain and the central nervous system.  This affects your ability to control your behaviour and your bodily functions, like thinking, talking, walking and even breathing.  Alcoholic drinks have varying amount of alcohol in them; Ready-To-Drink beverages or RTDs are usually around 5% alcohol, wine is between 12-15% alcohol, and spirits like vodka or whiskey can be around 40% alcohol.

•    Alcohol is a legal, sedative drug which changes the way we feel
•    Pure alcohol is a colourless, odourless and flammable fluid
•    Alcohol as a drug does not contain any nutrients for the body
•    Alcoholic beverages are used for their mood-changing properties. The more you drink the more parts of your brain become numbed from the sedative drug-alcohol.

What is the history of Māori and alcohol?

Traditionally, Māori did not drink alcohol.  Before the arrival of European settlers, Māori had no substances like alcohol in their communities.  Water was the universal drink for Māori, with the only exception being when water was sweetened with flax honey or berries.

As early as 1772, it is said that Māori were unhappy seeing the effect that alcohol had on the settlers, and named the drink “waipiro”, or stinking water.  It was not used as currency in trade and was not present at traditional ceremonial events.

Records show that alcohol use among Māori grew steadily from the 1850’s.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, rangatira Māori throughout the country saw the negative effects alcohol was having on their hapū and iwi.  In an effort to protect their people, some rohe banned alcohol completely, while others banned it from the marae.  Over time, these bans were revoked or relaxed and alcohol became common place and widely available.  

Today, alcohol is everywhere.  It’s difficult to walk down a street, or watch tv without seeing it promoted.  There are very few communities that don’t have an alcohol outlet, whether it’s a local supermarket, bottle store, or restaurant.  The good news is that although alcohol has been a significant factor in our past, we can decide how it affects our future.  The less alcohol in our lives, the healthier and happier we’ll be.  

Many of our marae were once alcohol free, and today a number have reclaimed that tikanga and provide a turangawaewae for hapū that is safe for everyone to enjoy, free from the harms of alcohol.  Check out the Hapū Hauora Whakakore Waipiro Policy and the Hapū Hauora Waipiro Hautū Kawenga – Hosting Responsibly with Alcohol Guidelines or contact the Kaupapa Lead for support for your marae to be alcohol free.



What is a standard drink?

One standard drink in New Zealand contains 10 grams of alcohol.  It’s important to be aware that a ‘standard drink’ isn’t usually the same as a glass of wine or beer poured in a pub or at home.  It’s important that anyone who drinks alcohol understands how many drinks they’re consuming.  Looking at labels and counting standard drinks is a reliable way of knowing how much alcohol you are drinking.  Counting glasses, bottles, or cans of alcohol can be misleading because each one may contain varying amounts of alcohol.  It depends on the size of the container and the amount of alcohol it contains.

The standard drink measure is a simple way for you to work out how much alcohol you are drinking.  To learn more about what’s in your glass, The Health Promotion Agency have some interactive tools to test your knowledge.

Alcohol content of a standard drink

The standard drinks measure is a simple way for you to work out how much alcohol you are drinking. It measures the amount of alcohol in a drink. One standard drink equals 10 grams of alcohol.

What is a standard drink?

•    330 ml can of beer @ 4% alcohol = 1 standard drink
•    100 ml glass of table wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 1 standard drink
•    335 ml bottle of RTD spirits @ 8% alcohol = 2.1 standard drinks
•    750 ml bottle of wine @ 13% alcohol = 7.7 standard drinks
•    1000 ml bottle of spirits @ 47% alcohol = 37 standard drinks
•    3 litre cask of wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 30 standard drinks

Have a look at the Guide to Standard Drinks.  It shows you how many standard drinks there are in some other common types of alcohol.

Cocktails can contain as much alcohol as 5 or 6 standard drinks, depending on the recipe.

Alcohol intake guidelines

The following guidelines can help you determine if your alcohol intake is harmful.

Adult men and women

Reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

•    2 standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week
•    3 standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week
•    and at least 2 alcohol-free days every week.

Reduce your risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking by drinking no more than:

•    4 standard drinks for women on any single occasion
•    5 standard drinks for men on any single occasion.

Pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant

•    No alcohol

There is no known safe level of alcohol use at any stage of pregnancy.

Parents of children and young people under 18 years

For children and young people under 18 years, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

•    Those under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking alcohol and not drinking in this age group is especially important.
•    For young people aged 15 to 17 years, the safest option is to delay drinking for as long as possible.  Those who begin drinking alcohol at an early age are more likely to consume alcohol at hazardous levels and depend on alcohol later in life.
•    If 15 to 17 year olds do drink alcohol, they should be supervised, drink infrequently and at levels usually below and never exceeding the adult daily limits.  The best way to safeguard rangatahi against the effects of alcohol is to delay any experiences with it.  There is information for parents to support these kind of conversations with your tamaiti.

The risk of injury and disease increases the more you drink.  Any drinking above recommended levels carries a higher risk than not drinking.  Mixing alcohol and other drugs – either illegal drugs or some prescription drugs – can cause serious health problems.

What does alcohol do to the body?

Alcohol has a number of effects on the body, and the most serious are those we cannot see.  It can damage our vital organs, and lead to life long illness and disease.  Other effects on the body include: 

•    heart – raised blood pressure, damage to the heart muscle and stroke
•    brain – brain damage, tremors, dementia and nerve damage.  Alcohol is a depressant drug and affects your coordination, self-control, judgement and reaction times
•    stomach – stomach inflammation and bleeding
•    liver – cancer, hepatitis, fatty changes, cirrhosis and liver failure
•    hormones and fertility – loss of sex drive and reduced fertility
•    nutrition – malnutrition and obesity
•    breast cancer and other whare tangata (house of humanity/womb) problems – women who drink alcohol are at a higher risk than non-drinking women.

Our rangatahi are at particular risk of harm, because their brains are still developing well into their 20’s. Because of this, the effects of alcohol and other drugs are much more evident. We also know that the earlier they are exposed to alcohol, the more likely they are to become dependent on alcohol later in life.

What happens when you drink alcohol?

Once swallowed, alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the blood and moves to all parts of the body, including to an unborn baby.

What are the effects of alcohol on māmā and pēpi?

There is no safe level of alcohol use at any stage of pregnancy.  If you are hapū, or think you may be, the best thing you can do is not drink while you are unsure, while you’re planning a pregnancy, or while hapū.

Alcohol can pass from you to your baby.  This can lead to lifelong effects for your pēpi.  It can also increase the chances of early birth, or losing your pēpi through miscarriage or stillbirth.  It’s never too late to stop drinking.  You will increase the chance of your pepi being born healthy by being alcohol free.

While breastfeeding its best to be alcohol free.  Alcohol enters your breast milk and passes to your baby.  This can affect your baby’s growth and development.  If you do choose to drink when breastfeeding, plan ahead.  Only breastfeed when there’s no alcohol in your system.  It takes about two hours for your body to break down one standard drink of alcohol.  If you drink more than this you will need to wait longer before breastfeeding.

If you need help to stop drinking, please korero to your midwife, doctor, or call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.

For more information on protecting you and your baby from alcohol, click here.

What do alcohol laws mean for marae?

Anyone who sells alcohol in Aotearoa must have a licence.  If your marae is hosting an event where alcohol is being sold, you’ll need to apply for a licence from your local Council that allows the sale of alcohol.  If alcohol is consumed, but no sale occurs, you are unlikely to need a licence.  You can look up whether or not you will need a licence here or discuss with your local council licencing inspector.

The licence provides clear rules around:

•    who alcohol can be sold to
•    the hours and days alcohol can be sold
•    who is allowed onsite
•    the range of kai, non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic drinks to be provided
•    ensuring guests get home safely if not staying at the marae.

It is against the law to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated, to allow a person to become intoxicated, or to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years.  The conditions or rules of a licence are there to ensure alcohol is sold and supplied in the safest possible way, so everyone attending enjoys themselves.

If you are planning an event, especially one that could attract a lot of people, it’s always best to tell your local Police about your plans as they can help with crime prevention and safety advice.  If you’re unsure about your event, or any event that you may be attending, contact the licensing inspector at your local Council.

There are lots of things a great host can do to ensure everyone has a good time.  Check out these top tips for ensuring your whānau and hapū have a safe and enjoyable time.

What is alcohol-related harm and what can hapū do to prevent it?

Alcohol is the most widely-used drug in Aotearoa.  Over 80% of all adults drink at least occasionally.  Alcohol use is a major risk factor for numerous health conditions, injuries and social problems.  ‘Alcohol related harm’ means serious harm to yourself, or to others because of intoxication from alcohol.  It includes road traffic injuries and fatalities, burns, falls, drowning, poisoning, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, assault, self-inflicted injury, suicide and homicide.

In Aotearoa, the estimated cost of alcohol related harm is $5.3billion every year.  This covers all kinds of expenses associated with alcohol harm including treatment in hospital for injuries, diseases such as cancer, and the cost of prosecuting a drink driver through the courts and their costs associated with prison. 

The good news is, as a hapū there is something we can do to reduce alcohol related harm in our community.  Being alcohol free on your marae and at your hapū events is the single most effective way of providing a safe environment for your whānau, hapū and iwi.  Check out the Hapū Hauora Whakakore Waipiro Policy or contact the Kaupapa Lead for support for your marae to be alcohol free.

If not choosing to be an alcohol-free marae, there are several ways to help reduce alcohol-related harm.

Ways to do this include:

•    Offering non-alcoholic alternatives like sparkling water with fresh lime and mint from your maara kai, tomato juice, cranberry juice, or homemade iced tea
•    Host responsibly when offering alcohol.