Nearly half of liquor retailers sold alcohol to minors during a Hawke's Bay-wide blitz on underage purchases at the weekend.
Eight out of 19 retailers sold alcohol to under-age actors as part of a controlled purchase operation in the greater Napier and Hastings areas on Friday and Saturday nights.
In Hastings on Friday, three out of eight outlets sold alcohol to a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, and on Saturday five out of 11 outlets sold to volunteers of the same age in Napier.
Late night taverns were the worst offenders, with one Hastings supermarket also failing the test.
The sting was a joint effort between police, local councils and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board. Those involved say the results were "scary" and the worst in a long time.
Napier police tactical response group Sergeant Nigel Formosa said it was the highest failure rate in 18 months.
"It is very disappointing. It is basically 45 per cent failure from the premises selling to the kids," he said. "Those kids didn't look look old either, they looked fairly young, so it's a fair test and it's a real shame they failed.
"It's a scary thing to think that kids can still buy liquor, and the failure rate of nearly 50 per cent is pretty scary."