Story: Liquor laws

6 o'clock closing

6 o'clock closing

The 6 o'clock closing time for pubs was first imposed in 1917 during the First World War. This was supposed to be a temporary war measure, but was made permanent the following year. While there was much criticism of the drinking conditions associated with 6 o'clock closing – encapsulated in its colloquial name: the 6 o'clock swill – the voting public retained 6 o'clock closing in a 1949 referendum. Voters had two choices, 6 o'clock or 10 o'clock closing. Those supporting the status quo argued that an extension of opening hours would only increase excessive drinking and harm the family. This resonated with voters.

This poster, which encourages voting for the status quo, plays on domestic concerns. Its message is that early closing means that fathers will be home in time to play with their children, and spend less money at the pub and more on the family.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-03

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Paul Christoffel, 'Liquor laws - Loosening of liquor laws', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 February 2024)

Story by Paul Christoffel, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Dec 2014