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Alcohol licensing

The sale of alcohol to any member of the public requires a Licence. Alcohol licensing in Buller is overseen by the District Licensing Agency (Buller District Council).

Changes to alcohol licensing

There have been some changes made to the licensing process in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

There are two sets of changes coming into effect - the first came into force on 31 August 2023 and the second will take effect on 30 May 2024.

Key things you need to know about alcohol licensing

There is a bit to selling a beer at the pub and before you pass your first pint to a customer, make sure you have gone through the proper process. 

When an applicant applies for a new alcohol licence, or to renew an existing licence, they must publicly notify the application, pursuant to s101 Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

New on-licence, off-licence and club licence applications need to be notified in the Westport News and will appear on our website, and our Buller District Council Facebook page for 25 working days. The applicant is also required to place a public notice in a conspicuous place on or adjacent to the site to which the application relates.

Renewal licence applications will be published on this website, and our Facebook page for 25 working days. There is no obligation for them to be advertised in the Westport News. The applicant is also required to place a public notice in a conspicuous place on or adjacent to the site to which the application relates.

The sale of alcohol to any member of the public requires a Licence under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. The object of this Act is to ensure that the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol is undertaken safely and responsibly, and the harm caused by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol is minimised.

All alcohol licence applications and renewals should be lodged at the Buller District Council for processing.

Applications will be decided by the Buller District Licensing Committee. These include:

Manager’s certificate: authorises the holder to manage any licensed premises including club licensed premises.

On-Licence: authorises the holder of the licence to sell and supply liquor on the premises for consumption on the premises (or conveyance).

Off-Licence: authorises the holder of the licence to sell liquor to any person for consumption off the premise or deliver liquor off the premises.

Club- Licence: For clubs like sports clubs to allow sale and consumption of alcohol to their members and guests at their club premises.

Special Licence: A special licence allows for the sale of alcohol at special occasions or events. They are normally used to licence one-off events where no licence is currently held, such as a food and wine festival or a quiz night.

A Special Licence can also be used to extend the hours or area of a licensed premises for a special occasion or event. A special licence is valid for the particular event, or series of events, or social gathering, specified in the licence. There are two types of special licence:

  • On-site special licence - allows the licensee to sell or supply alcohol for consumption on the site to people attending an event.
  • Off-site special licence - allows the licensee to sell the licensee's alcohol for consumption somewhere else and supply free samples.

Temporary Authority: a District Licensing Agency may temporarily authorise someone to sell and supply liquor for up to 3 months. Situations where this may happen include a quick sale, illness, death, bankruptcy, liquidation, receivership, mortgagee in possession, landlord in possession, abandonment, etc. A temporary authority holder has the responsibilities of the licensee to which the authority relates.

When a licensee appoints a Temporary Manager or Acting Manager, or a Manager starts or leaves employment at a licensed premises, the licensee must notify Council and the Police using the Notice of Management Change form within two working days.

The District Licensing Committee has five working days in which to object to an appointment in which case they will notify the licensee and give a copy of that notice to the Police. The licensee must then terminate the appointment of the manager no later than five days after receiving this notification.

If a manager resigns or their role is terminated, you must also notify all the above agencies.

All managers must hold a prescribed qualification known as a Licence Controller Qualification (LCQ) (issued on or after 18 December 2013). Further information on this requirement is in the New Manager’s Certificate (New Manager Form 17 Application Pack) or the Renewal of Manager’s Certificate application pack (below).

Applicants need to have the Licence Controller Qualification (LCQ) issued under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 which includes the two Unit Standards: Unit Standard 4646 (which requires a person to demonstrate knowledge of the Act) and Unit Standard 16705 (which requires a person to demonstrate knowledge of host responsibility requirements as a manager).

Applicants that have an older Licence Controller Qualification under the old Sale of Liquor Act 1989 would have needed to obtain the Bridging Test Certificate before January 2017 to convert to the new legislation. If you did not get the Bridging Test before 2017 you will need to re-sit the course.

An alcohol ban prohibits the possession or consumption of liquor, either for specific days, hours or at certain locations. A liquor ban is just one tool available to assist police and the community in dealing with alcohol related crime and disorder.

The Buller District Council’s Banning of Liquor in Public Places Bylaw 2005 came into effect in November 2005. It was designed as a town safety initiative to assist in reducing alcohol related crime, particularly vandalism and destruction of property.

Council has bans affecting areas within the district; two in Reefton and two in Westport. These are total alcohol bans, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Signs are present in these areas.

Who may object?

Any person who has a greater interest in the application than the public generally, may object to the granting of a licence and the objection must state the grounds for being considered a valid objector.

What is ‘a greater interest’?

  • A person with a greater interest is someone who is likely to be more affected than most other people – for instance:
  • A resident living near the proposed premises (with consideration to levels of noise, vandalism or nuisance)
  • A trustee of a nearby school
  • A minister of a nearby church
  • A person or group who is likely to be directly affected by the proposed premises
  • A nearby business (with consideration to levels of noise, vandalism or nuisance).

For further information, contact Buller District Council or write to:

Health Promoter
Community & Public Health
PO Box 43

Phone: 03 768 1160 ext 718

Special Licence application submission timeframes.

Not sure if your event requires a Special Licence or not? Take a look at this flowchart to help you decide.

The District Licensing Committee is aware of the expected surge in Special Licence applications typical towards the end of the year and would like to remind everyone of the following:

  • A minimum of 20 working days is required to process a Special Licence.

  • Please refer to the direction minute in the Special Licence application for timeframe requirements for large scale events (over 400 people).
  • You will need to lodge and pay for your application before 21 November 2023 to help ensure your license is ready for issue prior to Christmas.

  • If you require a Special License for early 2024, please note that between 20 December and 15 January there is only one ‘working day’ during this period. This means that Special Licenses for events up until 14 February 2024 will be affected.

  • It is very unlikely that applications received less than 20 working days before the event (at any time of the year) will be accepted by the DLC. It is your responsibility to ensure that you lodge applications on time and prevent potential disruption to your event plans.

You can find the Special Licence application form here 

For more information on how you can best ensure a timely and successful Special Licence application, please speak to a licensing officer by phoning 03 788 9637 or emailing