An alternative school for disengaged youth unknowingly signed a lease to share a building with a new liquor store in Aranui.
Te Kupenga O Aranui chairwoman Anni Watkin was one of about 50 people who attended a heated meeting at Aranui Primary School last night to discuss concerns about the presence of Thirsty Liquor store on Pages Rd.
The store was opened in December by Sabu Joseph, who lost his general store in the February 2011 earthquake. He obtained a temporary liquor licence issued to the store's previous tenants, but when it expires in March he will have to apply for his own licence, which would include consultation.
So far there are 1000 signatures on a petition against the store, led by Aranui health professional Karen Carpenter.
Watkin said she was concerned about the influence of the store on her 16 teenaged pupils who would be studying next to it fulltime from today.
The school signed a lease to occupy its building in November. A month later the liquor store opened.
"We had no knowledge of it.
"The concerns are that the business markets cheap pre-mixes that research shows is marketed towards young people. We see the impact of the ready-mixed drinks."
It added another hurdle to trying to re-engage teenagers who struggled in mainstream schooling. The school was already set up, and there were no other buildings available in the Aranui area, she said.
Among the crowd were eight people who identified themselves as in support of the store, some who were vocal throughout the meeting.
David Topliss believed the "poor guy", Joseph, was being picked on, and came to voice his support.
"I think there's nothing wrong with it being there. Just because there's a bottle store, it doesn't mean you have to go in there."
Father of six and grandfather of two, Morgan Kahika, said "alcohol kills".
"We all know the stats. We want to lift this part of our community up. We want to see our people grow and flourish."
Steve Reid from Agape Trust was against the store, since 80 per cent of the trust's young people had problems stemming from alcohol.
"We've got a little bit of a battle on our hands."
Aranui Primary School principal Mike Allen said the amount of broken bottles and cans on the school grounds had increased since the arrival of Thirsty Liquor.
Aranui Community Trust manager Rachael Fonotia said the community of 45,000 was empowered enough now to make decisions on which businesses operated in the area. Aranui's four bottle stores are within 1km of each other.
She was not aware of Joseph yet applying for a permanent licence, but if he did, the community had 15 days to lodge its objections through the petition and submissions gathered at the meeting.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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