Two special liquor licence applications for Warbirds declined

Poll: The 100,000 expected at Warbirds Over Wanaka should not expect casual drinks or tie-in theme nights on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, after two special liquor licence applications were declined.

Sitting in Queenstown yesterday, the district licensing committee declined applications by Wanaka's Gin And Raspberry, and Speights Ale House, saying both applicants wanted to "merely trade as usual," on the two days, which are classified sacrosanct, along with Christmas Day and Anzac Day, before 1pm.

Both bar owners took markedly different approaches.

Gin And Raspberry owner Francesca Voza aimed for live rock bands showcasing local talent on Friday, and a 1920s speakeasy themed night, with live era music to tie in with Warbirds on Sunday night.

"Warbirds is an exciting and energetic event, and we want to reflect that," Voza said.

The move was supported in writing by Lake Wanaka Tourism boss James Helmore.

The licence was opposed by Sergeant Linda Stevens, representing Queenstown police, medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell and Kristy Rusher, representing the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

However, the final call came down to committee chairman, retired District Court judge Bill Unwin, who did not mince words when declining the licence.

"It has to be said these two events are not that different to the normal entertainment offered by this establishment . . . and this form of event is in fact business as usual," Unwin said.

Speight's Ale House director Grant Lawrie did not try to pitch an event, saying Wanaka became an event unto itself with Warbirds and would benefit from this year's Highlands Park Festival of Speed at nearby Cromwell.

"Wanaka at Easter has a huge influx of people, which is unprecedented for the rest of the country, and should be treated in its own special manner."

He applied for a special licence to be open for drinking on Friday and Sunday, but would be allowed to serve alcohol with a substantial meal anyway. This had created problems in the past.

"Last year my staff had to deal with a lot of confrontational customers who didn't realise the situation with alcohol - there were a few Fs and Cs flying around," he said.

Unwin acknowledged Lawrie's "extreme candour," but said it equated to "business as usual" and had to be declined.

Unwin said Lawrie "wished to maintain we bend the law to accommodate his wishes".


The Southland Times