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Kaiti's voice heard over pokies issue

A decision which will make Kaiti Mall free from pokie machines is a big win that has taken 18 years since locals first opposed the premise, says an anti-gambling harm advocate.

The Alcohol Regulatory & Licensing Authority (ARLA) last week declined an appeal by Kaiti Club Hotel owner Kudlip Kaur Nagra against the decision of the District Licensing Committee not to renew the tavern licence for the premises.

It ruled that it was primarily a gaming venue and not a tavern.

Te Ara Tika Tairawhiti Gambling Services manager Lizz Crawford said under the Class 4 provisions in the Gambling Act 2003 no venue in New Zealand "can be used to mainly operate gaming machines (pokies)”.

“To hold that liquor licence they have to be a tavern, and they failed to prove that they are,” she said.

“Gambling, in particular pokies, can’t ever be the main activity of a venue.

“Now you might say what about the TAB in Peel Street, which isn’t a tavern? They actually own those pokie machines. They don’t lease them. The main activity is meant to be betting.

“Kaiti Sportsbar don’t own the pokie machines at their venue."

“And under the Gambling Act, even the TAB can’t establish pokie machines at the existing venue for the next five years; and the sinking lid policy (when an existing Class 4 (pokie) venue closes, another cannot be established).”

Ms Crawford said the community objected 18 years ago but the premises was able to establish itself.

“We do not want good decisions to take another 18 years.”

Kaiti’s community voice had been heard, she said.

The alcohol on-licence and the stay granted to Kaiti Club Hotel trading as Kaiti Sportsbar will cease in two months.

“This is a victory for Kaiti (people),who responded through petitions, polls and protests to say that they do not want the alcohol and gambling in Kaiti.

“Well done whanau for raising your voices and taking action,” said Ms Crawford.

Ka Pai Kaiti objected to the renewal of the on-licence.

“Through social media, whanau have told us they want a vege shop in the mall; they want a smokefree mall and they do not want the sportsbar in the Kaiti Mall,” said Ms Crawford.

“We pay tribute to whanau, community, agencies, social service sector, our legal team, the District Licensing Committee, the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority, the many people that have made this possible through speaking up and karakia (prayer).”

“The late Uncle Bill Aston had said ‘these machines aren’t just devouring money, they devour people, families, communities.’

“Uncle, we’ve fought a fight and we hope we have made you proud.”?

Words into action: Ka Pai Kaiti supporters recently took their anti-pokies stance to the streets in a protest outside the courthouse. Their voice and that of the community’s has been heard through the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority’s decision to decline Kaiti Club Hotel’s appeal against a decision not to renew the tavern’s alcohol on-licence for the Kaiti Sportsbar premises. This will in turn mean an end to it operating pokies. Gisborne Herald file picture