Since 1999, young people in New Zealand have been able to buy alcohol from the age of 18. And as we all know, loads of under 18s get hold of alcohol as well. Many parents have given the odd drink to young people under 18 – their own children, as well as their friends. But from the 18th of December 2013, the law about supplying alcohol to under 18s is changing and it’s important that both adults and young people understand this. 


So how is the law changing?

Here’s what’s happening:

Before supplying the alcohol you must get express consent from the under-18s’ parent or legal guardian. You must have good reason to believe the consent you’ve been given is genuine. Unless you are certain you have permission from a minor’s parent or legal guardian, don’t give alcohol to anyone under-18. You must also supply the alcohol in a ‘responsible manner’ (

So there are a couple of things in there to be aware of:

  • Express consent – This phrase means that if you want to give a young person under 18 alcohol, you need the specific permission of their parent or guardian. This could be in the form of a conversation, text message or email. It’s also important to note that a young person’s parent or guardian needs to give express consent for every event or occasion. You can’t just give someone general permission to give your child alcohol.
  • Genuine – if you receive consent via email or text message, it can be a good idea to check that the message actually came from the young person’s parent or guardian.
  • Responsible manner – As is currently the case, any host needs to supply alcohol in a ‘responsible manner’. Here’s what this means:

Responsible supply involves taking steps such as supervising the consumption of alcohol, providing food, offering low-alcohol and/or non-alcoholic drinks and ensuring safe transport options are in place. When supplying alcohol you should also think about what might be appropriate considering the age of any under-18s you are giving alcohol to, the volume and strength of the alcoholic drinks, and the duration and type of event you are hosting or that your under-18s are attending. (

How will this affect me?

Well, the main thing to know is that if you are hosting an event (even if it’s just having someone over at your house), you need to be sure that you have permission before you give alcohol to anyone under 18. If in doubt, don’t do it. Because….

The punishment:

If you supply alcohol to young people under 18 without the express consent of their parent of guardian, you can be liable for a fine of up to $2000. Yip. $2000!

More information:

So there you go! The basics of how the law about supplying alcohol to under 18s is changing. There’s heaps more information here: if you want to know more.


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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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Great advice – I Have a 16th birthday this weekend and my daughter has printed out slips for her friends parents to sign – here’s hoping this is enough to cover us.

Rochelle Gribble

Thanks! That sounds like an excellent idea! A tough area for parents these days, eh?

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