8 Feb 2012

Australian legal action considered over kava ban

3:43 pm on 8 February 2012

A group called the Australia Kava Movement is considering legal action in the High Court after being told it couldn't serve kava as a ceremonial drink at a major festival this weekend.

The cultural exemption request for kava to be used for traditional ceremonies at the multicultural event in Canberra has been denied.

Police have warned that selling, supplying or donating kava at the festival could lead to a five year jail term.

A spokesperson for the movement, Siosiua Lafitani Tofua'ipangai, who is from Tonga, says they want to go to court because stopping the drinking of kava as part of a cultural event is discriminatory and unfair.

"We are not going to the multicultural festival, because we only go there to promote our kava, that's the thing that we can do. Some of us are not dancers or we are not monkey performers to entertain people here, but with kava it's excluded."

Siosiua Lafitani Tofua'ipangai says many Pacific people still drink kava in the traditional way, despite tough restrictions on its use and importation to Australia.