Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Wanaka Easter traders knew inspectors would be absent

Wanaka stores opened their doors over Easter in an effort to take advantage of an influx of tourists in town for Warbirds Over Wanaka.
Wanaka stores opened their doors over Easter in an effort to take advantage of an influx of tourists in town for Warbirds Over Wanaka.

Despite Wanaka retailers failing to be granted exceptions to trade over the Easter weekend, stores threw open their doors after reportedly being secretly told no Labour inspectors would be visiting the tourist town.

Almost all shops opened to customers over the weekend, knowing there would be no repercussions, Radio New Zealand reported.

The area welcomed about 100,000 visitors for the Warbirds over Wanaka International Airshow.

No retailers would admit to RNZ they knew Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) officials would be skipping the town, but Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said she was aware inspectors would not be visiting.

"I know the Department of Labour officials weren't here this weekend, from what I've heard.

"That's not the answer is it? Because the law is still in place and if retailers open they are still breaking the law and that's just not satisfactory."

Ms Dean had twice attempted to introduce legislation exempt Easter trading rules in Wanaka, but her private members bill was voted down.

She was now speaking with colleagues about making changes to retail trading hours and liquor licensing laws to get around the Easter trading legislation.

Sally Gordon, owner of a clothing store, told RNZ retailers had no option but to open over the weekend.

"We need to be open in order to survive because we have quiet times as well - also a tourist destination and people who come here expect things to do, they want to go shopping, they want to go out to dinner, they want to have drinks."

MBIE's Labour department refused to confirm labour inspectors were told not to go to the tourist town over the weekend.

A spokesperson for the ministry told RNZ investigators would only look at Wanaka Easter trading if a complaint was made.

They would not confirm if complaints had yet been made.

- APNZ

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