Tauranga has become the biggest New Zealand city to approve a policy allowing all shops to open on Easter Sunday.

After a long and, at times, impassioned debate yesterday, the council voted seven to three in favour of introducing a policy permitting Easter Sunday trading.

From next year, any shop in Tauranga city will be allowed to open on Easter Sunday.

Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch councils have all voted to stick with the status quo - no Easter Sunday retail trading - while Wellington City Council had no plans to vote on the issue.

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Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming was "ecstatic" with Tauranga's decision.

She was one of a handful of the nearly 900 people who made formal submissions to present their views to the council yesterday.

People loved shopping when on holiday, she said, and shop owners who counted on long weekend trading to get them through Tauranga's "lean winters" should be able to serve them.

"Many visitors and tourists are people like me who only have time to shop when they're on holiday," she said.

"They want to shop, they love to shop. As a world-class destination, we should provide that service."

Mayor Greg Brownless and others who voted in favour said they were led by the results of a representative phone survey the council commissioned that showed a majority were for Easter Sunday trading.

Submitters and councillors who voted against raised concerns such as:

• families would lose time to rest and be together without the pressure to work
• Christian families may not be able to observe the religiously important day together
• the move would open the door to a future push to allowing shops to open on Easter Friday or Christmas, and
• retail workers could be pressured to work, even if they wanted to exercise their legal right not to.

Several councillors expressed resentment that the previous Government pushed this decision to territorial authorities.

The Shop Trading Hours Act of 1990 was amended in 2016 to allow councils to make policies permitting trading on Easter Sunday.

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council is also considering introducing a policy allowing Easter trading. Public submissions close today.

Survey results

Phone survey

- 401 people interviewed

- 60 per cent for Easter Sunday trading

- 38 per cent against

- 2 per cent not sure

- Conducted by a research company

- Quotas for age, gender, ethnicity and ward to create representative sample

- Margin of error of +/- 4.5 per cent at 95 per cent confidence level

Formal submissions
- Submitted online, via email and in hard copy
- 897 submissions
- 49.5 per cent (444) for Easter Sunday trading
- 50.5 per cent (453) against

Pre-consultation snapshot survey
- Posted with water rates bills
- 5736 respondents
- 49 per cent in favour of full unrestricted trading on Easter Sunday
- 36 per cent opposed to Easter Sunday trading
- 15 per cent for allowing Easter Sunday trading in specific zones