Three Bay of Island retailers found illegally selling alcohol to minors in sting operation | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Three Bay of Island retailers found illegally selling alcohol to minors in sting operation

A recent Controlled Purchase Operation (CPO) of alcohol retailers in the Bay of Islands resulted in three stores illegally selling alcohol to minors.

The CPO was a joint operation by New Zealand Police and the National Public Health Service. It involved underage volunteers, aged 17, attempting to purchase alcohol from licensed premises in the greater Bay of Islands area. Thirteen outlets were tested, with three of these leading to sales. These three retailers have been referred to the Alcohol Regulatory Licencing Authority to determine the disposition.

Kerikeri Police Alcohol Harm Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michelle Row, says the sales were very disappointing:

“When you apply for a license to sell alcohol, you have to show you have appropriate systems and procedures in place to prevent the sale of alcohol to underage people. If someone attempting to purchase alcohol products looks under 25, retailers should ask for appropriate photo identification. No photo identification, no sale. It really is that simple.”

“Alcohol outlets are aware that we run these types of operations regularly – they’ve been taking place for years and those stores found to be breaking the law must do better.”

The law prohibiting alcohol sales to persons under the age of 18 came into force in 1989. If a store sells alcohol to someone under 18 it can result in a suspension of their liquor license.

National Public Health Service Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ankush Mittal, says young people are highly vulnerable to alcohol-related harms:

“While young people appear to be drinking less than before, more than half of 15 to 17 year-olds in Aotearoa New Zealand reported drinking in the past year. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause damage to the developing brain, and increase the risk of accidents and injuries.”

“When alcohol retailers break the law and sell alcohol to minors, it increases harm to young people and to our communities.”

NZ Police and the National Public Health Service are urging all licensed premises to ensure they have appropriate systems in place to avoid selling alcohol to minors.

Controlled Purchase Operations (CPOs) are part of an ongoing programme to assess compliance with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 in an effort to address access to alcohol by minors.


Notes to editors:

The Northern Region of the National Public Health Service is responsible for protecting and promoting health in Te Tai Tokerau – Northland and Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland. The regional service was formed recently following the merger of Ngā Tai Ora - Public Health Northland and Auckland Regional Public Health Service, as part of the Pae Ora health reforms. The service is an agency of Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora.

Spokespeople for interview requests: 

Sergeant Michelle Row

Alcohol Harm Prevention Officer

Mid & Far North

Media contact: 09 3533 111;


Dr Ankush Mittal

Medical Officer of Health

National Public Health Service – Northern Region

Media contact (NPHS – Northern Region): 021 243 2421;

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