Perceptions of drinking culture in New Zealand: 2014/15 ABAS: In Fact

Perceptions of drinking culture in New Zealand: 20…
01 Mar 2016

When people perceive that heavy drinking is highly prevalent or permissible in their community, they may be more likely to develop risky drinking patterns themselves (Kypri & Langley, 2003; Perkins, 2002). In 2013/14, around 20% of New Zealand adults who drank alcohol reported drinking at a level that might be hazardous to their physical or mental health (Ministry of Health, 2014).

The Health Promotion Agency (HPA) promotes social environments that protect New Zealanders from alcohol-related harm, and aims to contribute to development of a culture that supports people to drink moderately or not at all. This fact sheet reports on attitudes and perceptions about drinking culture among New Zealand adults (aged 18-years-and-over).


The 2014/15 Attitudes and Behaviour towards Alcohol Survey (2014/15 ABAS) asked three questions that assessed people’s perceptions of the drinking culture in New Zealand and their attitudes towards drunkenness. Responses to each of the three perception questions asked were collected on a five-point scale ranging from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.

The responses of adults aged 18-years-and-over (n=3,812) were analysed. Responses were first compared by gender, ethnicity and age group (while controlling for the other demographic factors). Statistically significant differences (p<.05) between subgroups are reported in cases where the differences remained significant after accounting for other factors. Secondly, responses were compared by all demographic factors and by risky drinking (defined as having consumed seven or more drinks on an occasion in the past month). If differences were no longer significant after risky drinking was included, this is noted in the text.

Key Results

• Although more than two thirds of New Zealand adults did not agree that getting drunk is acceptable, half agreed that binge drinking is part of kiwi culture. Figure 1 shows the overall agreement or disagreement with each statement.

• No definition of "binge drinking" was provided to respondents in the survey. Responses may reflect differences in interpretation of what "binge drinking culture" means. However, the responses show that the existence of such a culture in New Zealand is widely perceived, particularly among adults in the middle age groups.

• Those who reported risky drinking behaviour were more likely to agree with the statements "It’s OK to get drunk as long as it’s not every day" and "Drunkenness is acceptable in some situations", compared to those who did not report risky drinking behaviour.

• Attitudes about the acceptability of drunkenness vary by age and gender. Males and those aged 18 to 24 years were the most likely to agree that getting drunk is acceptable. Figure 2 shows the agreement with each statement by age group.


Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018