>Can any of the Kiwis here tell me/any other interested parties what
>prompted the NZ Govt. to legalise home distillation? I was
>living in Oz when it happened
Ray Toms gave his view in msg 453 ... which I'l copy below, along with Des Zines comments from msg 455
From: Ray Toms <ray@m...>
Date: Mon Mar 27, 2000 1:06am
Subject: Re: [Distillers] Legal in NZ
The story of how distilling became legal in New Zealand is rather
It all dates back to the last Labour Government in the mid 80's when they
decided in their wisdom that Government Departments would be sold off to
private enterprise, turned into State owned enterprises (companies) or in
the case of Departments like Customs which couldn't realy do either, be run
like businesses and make a profit where ever possible.
During the redrafting of our liquor laws 1989/90 the Customs Department put
it to the Goverment that if they were supposed to be business like why did
they have to check on all licenced stills in the Country where they only
collected revenue from the ones that made alcohol. The solution to the
problem ? Make the ownership of a still no longer ilegal which they did by
simply removing that section from the act. Very shortly after this became
the case two bright sparks by the name of Peter Wheeler and Malcolm Wheeler
(yes the same ones that wrote the book and own Spirits Unlimited) decided
that if the ownership of a still was no longer ilegal then they would start
selling them to the general public. This created a beautiful catch 22 for
Customs, under the Customs act if you distilled alcohol you had to have a
licence and pay excise tax, but the thought of policing home stills for
small amounts of alcohol filled them with horror so they made an internal
policy that although there was nothing to stop them licencing home stills
that they wouldn't do it. This left them in another no win situation, the
maximum fine under the act was $500 and consfiscation of the offending
alcohol, the cost of a prosecution several thousand dollars so they didn't
deem that to be an efficient use the their money either so they largely
turned a blind eye to it all. After many submissions to Government (myself
included) when the liquor laws where changed again in October 1996 sanity
prevailed and the customs act was changed and the word spirits added into
the part about brewing beer, wine or the growing of tobacco for your own use
was free of excise tax.
This is a pretty unique set of circumstances which are unlikely to be
replicated overseas I would have thought although I believe that there is a
lot of pressure for Australia to follow and we are watching with great
interest to see if it happens.
From: Des <topkiwi@i...>
Date: Mon Mar 27, 2000 6:32am
Subject: Re: [Distillers] Legal in NZ
Well thank you Ray for answering this question. I have not had the time to
Yes the explanation below is a good rundown on the recent distillation
history in New Zealand. The situation to some extent got too big for the
government to control and as the product being produced could not be
faulted on health grounds (yes it was tested by "the powers that be") there
was really no other choice but to legalise it. In about September 1995 it
was estimated that there were close to 2000 stills, capable of producing
alcohol, being used as 'ornaments' in the Auckland city alone.
A number of us interested parties made submissions to our local members of
parliament and the governing bodies in support of the law change.
There have really been no problems and so long as it stays that way other
governments may eventually see the light. However it must be remembered
that alcohol production is a good, easy, and inexpensive source of tax
revenue to any government. For this reason I urge all NZers to 'play the
game' and abide by the rules. We have something unique to be cherished.
Just like to mention, the authors of the book mentioned below are Peter
Wheeler and Malcolm Willomtt who developed the home distillation system we
use now days.
Thank you for a very interesting question, I am sure a lot of people are
interested in how it all happened.