Grieving father Eddie Hansman says the binge-drinking culture among teenagers is the "killing fields of New Zealand" and has called for the drinking age to return to 20.
His comments came yesterday as an inquest was held into his 19-year-old son Daniel's death in August last year after he fell into Wellington harbour near the overseas passenger terminal.
Daniel and four friends had been drinking heavily on the day.
He went missing after being refused entry to a Courtenay Place bar.
Mr Hansman, from New Plymouth, accepted his son was responsible for his own actions, but said the Government had created the binge-drinking "playing field".
"They didn't want to raise the drinking age back up to 20, supermarkets are allowed to sell (beer) cheaper than a can of Coke, and it is available 24/7 in the city.
"How much more of this does New Zealand want to watch? We are killing our teenagers off. I call it the killing fields of New Zealand."
Mr Hansman wanted the drinking age to return to 20 and a heavier tax to be put on alcohol.
"The Government needs to do this - they have to - or the killing fields will just keep going."
Wellington coroner Garry Evans was told that Daniel Hansman, a Victoria University design student, had become heavily intoxicated after drinking with four friends in Aro Valley.
That night he and a friend were refused entry to a bar in Courtenay Place. He went missing while his companion went to use a public toilet.
Police divers found Mr Hansman's body a week later.
The fly of his jeans was open, which led police to believe he may have fallen while trying to relieve himself.
Mr Evans ruled that he drowned accidentally.
South Canterbury coroner Bernard MacGeorge said yesterday the death of a Timaru teenager after a drinking binge highlighted the danger of excessive alcohol use by youths.
Sam Peter Copland, 16, choked while camping at Lake Benmore.
A witness said he had drunk 24 stubbies and two bottles of bourbon.
In March the Government issued the National Drug Policy, which calls for a range of departments, from police to customs and the Health Ministry, to draw up plans to tackle drug abuse.
The Government has promised to review the supply of liquor to minors.
In November, MPs voted 72-49 against MP Martin Gallagher's bill to raise the drinking age to 20.
- The Dominion Post
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