If you call West Auckland home, your community owns and benefits from award-winning retail liquor outlets and hospitality venues operated by The Trusts.

Through our network of stores and venues, as well as our long-term investment portfolio, we are able to give our surplus profits to community organisations in our local area. We also work to provide employment and opportunity throughout West Auckland.

We hope you find the below information useful. Feel free to email us at info@thetrusts.co.nz, visit our Facebook page or call us on 09 826 2620.

You can also download the below information in PDF format here.

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About The Trusts

‘The Trusts is made up of the Portage Licensing Trust (PLT) and Waitakere Licensing Trust (WLT) which have been given a mandate by community vote to sell alcohol through licenced retail stores and hospitality venues.

We exist to support our local community.

Through our network of stores and venues, as well as our long-term investment portfolio, we are able to give our surplus profits to community organisations in our local area. We also work to provide employment and opportunity throughout West Auckland.

We operate 26 West Liquor and speciality Village Wine & Spirits stores in West Auckland.

Both the Portage and Waitakere Licensing Trusts run their management functions through West Auckland Trust Services Ltd (WATS).

WATS houses functions such as resources, accounting, marketing and logistics, to streamline operations, reduce costs, and be more effective.

The WATS Board of nine Directors govern the business and oversee the Senior Management team. Five of the Directors are independent with commercial experience and complement the four Directors who are appointed from the licensing trusts. Their role is to manage the financial performance of the business and governance.

The role of our elected members is to monitor business performance, ensure that we’ve delivered on our strategic objectives and financial targets and make decisions about the distribution of cash profits from our business operations, as well as meeting our obligations around responsible liquor sales.

Download Annual Report

The Area Covered By Waitakere & Portage Licensing Trusts


Supporting West Auckland

What drives us is being able to support West Auckland – the community we operate and live in.

For us, this is larger than distributing of surplus profits. It encompasses the employment and opportunity that we provide our team members, the local businesses we utilise in our operations as well as providing venues and stores for our community to enjoy.

We see it as a sustainable cycle that means we can benefit our local area in a number of ways.

We are one of the largest employers in the West Auckland area, and continue to see our employees grow their careers over time with us.

We use local suppliers – like our shipping and distribution partners Lupton Carriers – which helps the business community in West Auckland.

The elected members of both Trusts are responsible for deciding how our surplus profits are given back. This is always aligned with the needs of our community, as well as being aligned to our long-term investment strategy.

In 2019-20, we gave back $3.2 million to 71 organisations.

This money came from our surplus trading profits, as well as our property investment portfolio.

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Stores & Venues

There are just under 30 West Liquor and specialty Village Wine & Spirits stores across West Auckland.

These are conveniently located within 3km of where most West Aucklanders live. We work hard to keep prices competitive and to offer a great range, backed up by top service and knowledgeable staff.

Because of our unique licensing trust model, the community has more control over how many liquor stores are in our community and who can operate them. We take that responsibility seriously.

When you shop at one of our award-winning stores, the profits stay here in West Auckland to be given back to hundreds of community groups, schools and good causes.

Find Your Local Store

Hospitality Venues

We operate some of the many hospitality venues found in West Auckland. They’re all a bit different, designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers in different places across West Auckland.

From local sports bars to gastropubs, there is something for just about everyone. We also set aside money to re-invest and improve our bars and venues each year, keeping them fresh and modern.

In the past couple of years we’ve opened new venues, closed ones which didn’t meet the community’s needs, and welcomed many non-Trusts restaurants, licensed cafes, breweries and cellar doors to West Auckland. You can choose from over 100 local venues for a drink, a meal or a night out in the West.

We also run the 4-star Quality Hotel Lincoln Green, which recently received a silver award in the Qualmark Sustainable Tourism Business Awards.

Learn More


Each year the full set of accounts for each Trust is published on our website. Our accounts are professionally audited by an independent auditor under the guidance of the Office of the Auditor General.

Download Annual Report


Holding on to some of your money to make more money in the future is the simple idea behind saving and investing, whether it’s a few dollars each week in a safety net account or a few hundred invested monthly in KiwiSaver.

We are applying the same long-term thinking to growing the funds we give back to the community.

In 2013 we reviewed our strategy to look at how we can future-proof our funds for community support and ensure there is a sustainable, carefully managed pool of money that can grow for the future.

We know from the applications we receive for funding that there are wonderful groups of people in our neighbourhoods doing heroic work. Some have ambitious goals like the major rebuild of Waitakere Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit, and some need simpler things, like a discus safety cage for their athletics club. All of them deserve support because they all make a difference in people’s lives.

In the past, we have had to make tough choices about what to support and we’re always overwhelmed by the need out there in West Auckland. So, we developed a strategy to reinvest some of our profit to grow a secure source of funding for the future. It’s a bit like Kiwisaver – putting money aside so it can be professionally invested in a balanced portfolio of equities and properties. 

We want to ensure The Trusts can support the community for good and all three parts of our business – retail, hospitality and investment – have a role to play in that.

Our People

Our aim is to be one of the great places to work in West Auckland, where all of our team can make a difference.

We are proud to be a workplace that offers our employees both the DVFREE Tick and Gender Tick – independent accredited processes that show our commitment to support our team.

All of our team and their families have access to our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which can help them with issues like family/parenting problems, anger and conflict management or stress. We can also arrange access to drug and alcohol counselling if needed.

We encourage our team to engage in learning and development programmes to help them grow their careers.

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Remuneration and Employee Benefits

More than 300 people work in The Trusts’ stores, venues, hotel and support office.

We are committed to taking care of our people and offering them as much support as possible to develop their careers with us. Our commitment to our team goes far beyond wages alone.

We believe that the opportunity to grow your career close to home, while working for a business that’s here to support you for the long-term is important.

Career development and benefits

We are proud to offer team members the opportunity for genuine progression to make a career in retail and hospitality. We are also proud to provide some members of our team with their first employment experience, which for many people has led to them progressing to more senior roles with us.

All team members are entitled to the following benefits while working for us:

  • Team Member Discount Card which provides a 10% discount at our retail outlets and 25% off at our restaurants (conditions apply)
  • Discounted gym membership fees
  • Discounted medical insurance
  • Life insurance to the value of one year of the team member’s annual earnings
  • Access to an “earn while you learn” scholarship that supports people to study towards bachelor-level qualifications related to their role
  • Long service and team awards which range from $250 gift cards to additional annual leave
  • Free flu vaccinations
  • Birthday leave
  • If our team members need assistance, we offer free, professional and confidential counselling services through EAP
  • We match up to 4% employer contribution to KiwiSaver

How wages and salaries are set

Our Remuneration Policy requires that all wages and salaries are job-sized and then benchmarked against industry market data from an independent remuneration advisory firm, to ensure we pay people fairly for the scope of work and responsibilities they have, alongside considering their recent performance in the role.

Job sizing helps us understand internal relativities and compares similar sized jobs to external market rates. It is an important tool in organisations where there is a greater need for rigour and transparency in setting remuneration.

Wage rates

All our team are paid at at least the living wage, which is currently $22.75 per hour (as at September 2021)

Executive salary disclosure

Employees in Executive roles with the Trusts are employed by West Auckland Trust Services Ltd, a shared services business established by the two trusts to reduce operating costs, drive greater efficiency and improve buying power.

West Auckland Trust Services Ltd operates under the Companies Act 1993. That legislation gives businesses the choice to disclose, or not, the salaries of employees.

In accordance with the Companies Act, the Shareholders of West Auckland Trust Services Ltd have opted not to disclose executive salaries to protect the privacy of individuals, however we are able to share that only a small number of people at the Trusts earn over $100,000 per year and they have their roles job sized and salaries set relative to fair market rates in accordance with our the Remuneration Policy in the same manner as the rest of the team at The Trusts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did your Trusts get established in West Auckland?

Up until the 1940s, alcohol was prohibited or restricted in many parts of New Zealand. As prohibition faded out, many communities were still concerned about having a community-minded approach to the sale of alcohol. Licensing trusts were established in response to this and the first, the Invercargill Licensing Trust, was established in 1944 and is still going strong today.

It wasn’t until the early 1970s that West Aucklanders voted to establish the Waitakere Licensing Trust and Portage Licensing Trust. The law allows for the Trusts’ mandate to manage alcohol sales in West Auckland to be challenged and every so often it is. The last time was in 2003 when a referendum was held and residents voted to retain the model.

Is it true the Trusts control all liquor licensing in West Auckland?

No. The Trusts do not control liquor licensing, that is Auckland Council’s responsibility. Like anyone who wants to open a licensed venue in West Auckland, we must apply to the Auckland Council for a licence to operate our stores and venues.

Why do you oppose licence applications if someone wants to start up as competition?

We don’t. We have not opposed any licence applications in West Auckland for several years. The only venues that we have a community granted mandate to operate exclusively are those that trade late into the night (bars) where the primary focus is the sale of alcohol. These venues operate under a Tavern licence as required by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (2012).

Don’t the Trusts prevent freedom of choice?

No. Anyone can open a hospitality venue under a restaurant licence in West Auckland and there are plenty of licensed clubs too. These venues don’t have to sell food with every drink.

You are welcome to have a drink with or without food at more than 100 licensed hospitality venues in West Auckland already, with more planned to open from a range of different operators.

 Is it true the Trusts prevent supermarkets from selling alcohol?

It’s true you can’t buy wine or beer in most West Auckland supermarkets, as it is part of what our community voted for to manage the retail sale of alcohol in West Auckland under a licensing trust model. There are a range of views on this topic, but one of the pieces of feedback we often hear is that the small inconvenience of not having beer and wine in supermarkets is worth it for knowing there is community control over the number, the location and the operating hours of liquor stores in our community, and that profit made is distributed back to West Auckland.

Doesn’t all your giving come from gaming profits?

Today, all donations made by the Trusts come from profit in our retail stores, bars, eateries and investment portfolio.

How does gaming fit in your operations?

Gaming laws require proceeds from gaming machines to be managed by a separate gaming society. In our venues this is The Trusts Community Foundation (TTCF), a separate organisation to The Trusts. TTCF is a national gaming foundation which distributes profit from gaming machines nationwide.

Some of our venues have gaming machines and a number do not. The total number of gaming machines in our venues has reduced by 50% since 2014. Under New Zealand’s gaming laws, elected members of your licensing trusts have a say in recommending the distribution of gaming funds raised in venues in their local communities.

Haven’t Licensing Trusts had their day? They are outdated and out of step.

We listen to a wide range of voices in our community and there are a wide range of views. Some people would argue the Trusts model is more relevant today than ever as a growing number of social enterprise business models are valued for putting community needs ahead of just profit.

Many people in our community do not want liquor outlets in every small cluster of shops, or 24-hour alcohol sales, or alcohol sold in places where children are more likely to be exposed to it as an every day commodity alongside the groceries.

Many people value the fact that profit from alcohol sold in West Auckland goes back to the West Auckland community.

We work hard to listen and evolve our business to meet changing needs in our community. As long as the community continues to vote for the licensing trust model, we will always take our mandate for selling alcohol in a responsible way seriously, with the wider community’s best interests at heart.

Are The Trusts hospitality venues financially viable?

Yes, they are. Hospitality is a tough business and we are continually working on our businesses to ensure they are providing customers with a great experience and performing well to support our giving back.

We open new venues where we see an opportunity to run a financially sustainable business and from time to time we refurbish or close those venues which have passed their use-by date.

How much are elected members paid?

Elected members are paid $280 for each meeting they attend, which is on average two per month. The presidents of each Trust receive a total annual honorarium of $30,000 each gross before tax.

How much are your senior employees paid?

We have robust processes in place for setting remuneration. All salaries are reviewed and benchmarked by an independent, external remuneration advisor to ensure we are paying fair market rates and attracting the right people to lead and grow your community-owned businesses.

Don’t the Trusts deliver poor returns given how much money they turn over?

It’s important to distinguish between revenue and profit. Our giving comes from our surplus profits based on our hospitality, retail and investment business

Your prices are a lot more expensive than your competitors.

We have to be competitive on price in our retail stores to succeed. Prices fluctuate in different stores depending on promotion and pricing strategies. We do regular price comparisons and on any given day we can be the cheapest in some product lines and more expensive in others, but we always aim to provide good value for money. We put time, money and effort into our team delivering great service to you.

How do The Trusts meet their legal obligations?

You can read our Statement of Social Responsibility here. 


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The Trusts Community Foundation (TTCF) – a national, separate organisation from The Trusts – run class 4 gaming machines in some of our venues in West Auckland.

The profit from these machines is distributed back to the community. For the 2019/20 Financial Year, TTCF achieved a return of 44.84% net revenue to authorised purposes.

TTCF works in conjunction with elected members from the Waitakere and Portage Licensing Trusts so that the profit is distributed to local organisations within the area of operation.

Under New Zealand’s gaming laws, the people you elect to govern your licensing trusts have a say in the distribution of gaming funds in their local communities, by way of monthly recommendations to TTCF.

While there are differing views on gaming machines throughout New Zealand, we ensure that our team members in our venues are able to help those who may have a problem with gambling. We also work with TTCF on signage and brochures, as well as information for the Gambling Helpline to be available for customers in our venues.

Engage With Us

There are plenty of ways you can get involved with or provide feedback to The Trusts.

You can email us or contact us via our Facebook page or call us on 09 826 2620.

The elected members for each Trust meet once a month and members of the public are welcome to attend the public part of the meeting.

You can find contact details for Waitakere elected members here and Portage elected members here – the dates and venues of each Trust’s monthly meetings can also be found on these pages.

The key role of the elected members is to monitor business performance, ensure we’re delivering on our strategic objectives and financial targets, as well as meeting the community’s expectations around responsible liquor sales.

Minutes of each meeting are published, and you can see them on our website.

Members are elected every three years as part of the local body elections. If someone stands down from their role between elections, a by-election may be held.