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Kiwis' (mis)perceptions of alcohol attitudes and behaviours - NZABC

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New research by the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) shows perception is not reality when it comes to what Kiwis think about the way we drink.

"Although 58% (up 19% from last year) of those surveyed agreed the majority of New Zealanders drink moderately and responsibly, close to a third (29%) still think we don’t - even though official statistics clearly show the vast majority (80%) of Kiwis drink in a moderate way," says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.

"Nearly half (47%, down 15% from 2019) were incorrect in thinking there were more 15 to 17-year-olds drinking than over a decade ago. Yet, government research shows 22.8% fewer younger people had alcohol in the past year compared with 2006/7 when measurement began," says Bridget.

Also, nearly half (48%) incorrectly thought that there were more drink-driving convictions than a decade ago. Drink-driving is decreasing and has been for some years.

"Over half (53%, up 2% from 2019) wrongly think New Zealanders drink more alcohol than most other developed countries, with only 36% thinking we drink less. New Zealanders actually consume less alcohol than the OECD average, and less than countries like Australia, UK, US, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and France," she says.

Almost a quarter (24%) thought there was no tax on alcohol except for GST. However, 59% were aware of the excise tax on alcohol.

"Kiwis are making positive changes in their attitudes and behaviours toward alcohol. They are making better decisions around alcohol based on their personal circumstances, situation and their lifestyle, and as result, we see a decline in hazardous drinking, fewer younger people are drinking and decreases in total consumption," Bridget says.

"While we are seeing some positive changes to our drinking culture, there is still work to be done to increase momentum and accelerate these changes. We know from other research that one in five drink in a way that is hazardous to themselves or others - and that is not okay. An all-of-society approach, targeted education and support programmes are critical to changing attitudes and behaviours and helping people make better decisions around alcohol," says Bridget.

Need more information? Check out and for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions.

Ministry of Health/HPA Guidelines: Low-risk alcohol drinking advice to reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

Two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week,

Three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week,

AND have at least two alcohol-free days every week. Need help?

Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, free txt 8681, or visit

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