PHOTO/SUPPLIED

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Nearly 20 per cent of people in Wairarapa are drinking alcohol to “hazardous” levels, with booze-fuelled crime higher in the region than the rest of greater Wellington.

The statistics have prompted Compass Health to launch a new campaign aimed at encouraging responsible drinking behaviours.

The campaign – ‘What about you?’ – was developed after a Wairarapa research project which showed 19 per cent of the population were engaged in hazardous levels of drinking, with an average of at least one person a day treated at Wairarapa Hospital’s Emergency Department because of it.

Parents and adults supplying alcohol to underage drinkers was also a concern highlighted across the region.

Compass Health’s health promoter Kath Tomlinson said ‘What about you?’ had been designed so it could be easily picked up by other organisations keen to promote a low-risk drinking culture.

“We wanted a campaign to support everyone with positive alcohol messaging – not telling people what to do, but getting them to question their behaviour, their drinking and their attitudes to alcohol.”

Posters, coasters, drink bottle tags, flags and pens, as well as social media posts, are being distributed throughout Wairarapa as part of the campaign.

The posters display messages like “watch out for your mates” while having a night out, and “keep fuelled up”, a reminder to eat while drinking.

Positive statistics are also displayed, including “nine out of 10 New Zealanders didn’t get drunk in the last month”, and highlighting that an increasing number of teenagers were choosing to go alcohol-free.

Tomlinson said it was important to be good role models to young people, so some posters encouraged this.

One reminds people “you’re a parent, not a mate”, while another says “play by the rules” by not supplying alcohol to under 18-year-olds.

Coasters with “I drive sober” and “be a hero, drink zero” will be at bars and restaurants.

And discrete pamphlets offering information on where to get help for people concerned about their drinking, while also offering tips for staying on track when socialising, will also be available throughout the region.

Masterton District Council held a workshop at Masterton Club on Monday night to get public feedback on its proposed Alcohol Control Bylaw which will replace the Liquor Control in Public Places bylaw.

The proposed changes would give Masterton its own standalone alcohol bylaw, and replace the word ‘liquor’ with ‘alcohol’.

It’s the first stage in a bylaw review project MDC is undertaking with Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils’.

While Riversdale Beach and Castlepoint won’t be included as alcohol-free zones in the MDC bylaw, the council wants to review them yearly to ensure necessary controls are in place.

The council has placed a ban on alcohol in public places on Riversdale Beach and Castlepoint from 6pm on December 30 until mid-day on January 1, as well as Labour Weekend.

The community will be consulted on the full bylaw review in the first half of next year.