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Pokie-free Kaiti Mall

A failed appeal by Kaiti Club Hotel to renew their licence is seen as a David and Goliath victory for small community organisation Ka Pai Kaiti.

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority declined an appeal by Kaiti Club Hotel owner Mrs Kudlip Kaur Nagra against the decision of the District Licensing Committee not to renew the tavern licence for the premises, ruling that it was primarily a gambling venue and not a tavern.

This is only the beginning, says Ka Pai Kaiti manager and community wellness advocate Tuta Ngarimu.

“I am feeling so optimistic about the future now, because we were up against a multimillion-dollar corporate.

“When we took them to court, we were fighting every pokie venue and gaming trust in the country. We had no money to fight. We didn’t let that faze us — it was the harm and damage in the community that drove us.”

Mr Ngarimu said they had the right people on their side.

“This is huge — not just for us here in Kaiti but others fighting around the country.

“This is a lesson. We found a way.”

But it is still a long way to go, he said.

“I have told our people I am going to set up a national network and this news will fuel everybody. We will use this to lobby the Government. We will be talking to Members of Parliament throughout the country, drumming up support and hoping for some serious traction.”

His aim is to get rid of pokies in pubs and communities.

“I haven’t got a problem with the big casinos — it is the ones in the local pubs.”

Mr Ngarimu says he is well aware of the money involved and what it funds.

“But we need to turn off this unethical tap of funding. We have had a look and know about $100 million is used to fund various community school and sport projects. But when you look at more than $1 billion of harm, it just does not make sense.

“We will be pushing, pushing, pushing. I am thinking about our schools and sports clubs — our Government needs to find more ethical funds for them.”

Te Ara Tika, Tairawhiti Gambling Services manager Lizz Crawford said it was a victory for the community, especially for Kaiti whanau who have stood up and said “we don’t want this . . . we don’t want our tamariki growing up next to this.”

She would like to see something positive go into the shop space, like a fruit and vegetable shop or salon.

‘Primarily a gaming venue and not a tavern’: RulingIn a reserved decision the authority does not agree with the District Licensing Committee that the community environment would be enhanced if the application was declined, which it says is not supported by the evidence.

It says that the premises is primarily a gaming venue and not a tavern, and the on-licence should not be renewed.

It does share the concern of the licensing inspector over the extent of involvement the applicants, Mr and Mrs Nagra, had in the premises.

The authority says looking at the totality of the decision, it does not consider that the appellant has discharged the onus on it to satisfy the authority that the decision was wrong, that the authority’s decision should differ or that the authority is justified in not interfering with it.

The authority agrees that the premises is not a tavern but is primarily a gambling venue. As such the application for a tavern on-licence must fail.

Further, the district licensing committee was justified in being concerned about compliance with the conditions of the licence relating to the promotion of food, which goes to the applicant’s suitability, as does the absence of the licensee from Gisborne and the premises.

The applicant was in a probationary year. The purpose of this initial licence was to enable applicants to demonstrate their compliance with the Act and their attitude towards achieving the object of the Act.

The authority agrees with the committee, considering all the evidence together, that the applicant has not satisfactorily demonstrated that renewing the on-licence will achieve that object.

CELEBRATING: Now Kaiti Mall is pokie-free, it’s time to celebrate — but there is more work to do to get pokies out of pubs all over the country. Pictured at the Kaiti Mall are Ka Pai Kaiti supporters, from left, Cheanne Johnson holding Skylee Peachey, Paul Crawford, Te Ara Tika, Tairawhiti Gambling Services manager Lizz Crawford, Ka Pai Kaiti manager Tuta Ngarimu, supporter Coey East with Junior Brown and Dale Marino-Taare. Picture by Liam Clayton