It’s interesting to contrast the difference in styles between Church Road Winery and Mission Estate as each handled concert-goer dissatisfaction after their respective non-BYO concerts.

Here, from HB Today’s post-concert report, are the two quotes referring to Church Road Winery after their inept handling of alcohol sales at their Joe Cocker concert:

“The winery refused to comment on alcohol problems at Saturday’s concert” And … “Church Road wouldn’t say whether there would be an early cut-off point for alcohol at the Crowded House event later this month, or discuss any other measures in place.”

All comments made to HB Today regarding the event were made by the Police. This “no comment” posture from Church Road has persisted.

Almost immediately after the Cocker concert, spokespeople from the upcoming Mission event — the event organiser, the Mission CEO — were quoted in the media, talking about how they were planning to avoid the problems that afflicted Church Road. By their own choice or otherwise, they fronted up to the public, telling us what we might expect.

Then, along came the concert itself, featuring Sting of course, which had its own liquor sales problems, but not the total sales meltdown at Church Road.

In the aftermath, the Mission spokespeople have been quite forthcoming — describing the steps they had taken to anticipate and staff up for crowd demand, acknowledging how those arrangements didn’t quite get the job done, mentioning lessons learnt and, yes, chiding authorities a bit for being too rigid in their imposed restrictions.

For example (from HB Today):

“The Mission had put on 145 bar staff for the event, and they coped until the early evening surge.’That put extraordinary pressure on staff,’ Mr Holley said (Mission CEO). ‘They were fantastic and we were absolutely resourced to the hilt – it comes down to how we are going to re-apply that resourcing.’ A detailed report would be compiled, using data from sales and peak demand times. There were licensing restrictions on the amount of drinks people could buy at one time.”

All in all in the various media reports, a healthy mix of “we’re sorry, we’ll learn from this, we don’t think it was all our fault, but we accept responsibility” delivered forthrightly to the Mission’s customers of the event.

Church Road compounded its failures on the night with its failures to communicate subsequently with the public.

Mission Estate handled the same situation in the best manner possible — they conducted a post-mortem conversation with their customers. They didn’t ignore or blow them off. Excellent public relations.

What might account for the difference in style?

Of course, the first reason might be the personalities and relative skills of the individual managers involved.

But here’s another possibility …

Church Road Winery, whose reputation was built over five decades by winemaking legend Tom McDonald, is now a mere outpost of international liquor conglomerate, Pernod Ricard (via Pernod Ricard NZ in Auckland). Church Road is run from overseas. What do they care about a ‘mishap’ on some summer night out in the provinces?

On the other hand, Mission Estate, part of an NZ charitable trust, is run from Taradale. Its responsible managers are neighbors of their customers.

Amazing what a difference physical proximity to one’s customers makes!

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. Tom in your summary you have highlighted one of my very big concerns – foreign ownership of our businesses and our land. The large corporates seem to be only interested in profits, too much of which ends up in the pockets of "fat cat" overseas executives (I love that title!) , and don't give a damn about people. Our home grown businesses are one by one being sold off and too many are being profit skimmed or shut down, or moved offshore with job losses and income to our own communities. Now we are looking to a new deal with Australia – this may mean more export income but who will benefit in the long haul? Australian businesses are already swamping our land with products readily available here and which we can produce better ourselves. Also our total dependence on overseas exports leaves us extremely vulnerable. My comments are not a lot to do with the concert alcohol sales issues but are part of a bigger picture.

  2. …which provides an opportunity to remind your readers that the deadline for submissions to the Alcohol Reform Bill is tomorrow, but if they haven't made a submission, they can do so now online, on the Parliament website

    I suggest that readers highlight the changes recommended by Alcohol Action NZ, namely:

    Put an end to:

    1. Ultra cheap alcohol, beginning with a minimum price for a standard drink;

    2. Highly normalised and accessible alcohol, by restoring supermarkets to being alcohol free;

    3. All alcohol advertising and sponsorship;

    4. Legal drunk driving, by reducing the alcohol blood level to at least 0.05

    For more information to back these up, you can go to Alcohol Action's website:

    And say you want to speak to your submission so we can have the hearings here in the Bay.


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