Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Rules to change by next Easter (+video)

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Rotorua MP Todd McClay believes this Easter is likely to be the last Rotorua retailers are denied the choice to open.

Mr McClay is confident that by next Easter locals will have the choice of whether they shop, work, relax with family or go to church on Easter Sunday.

But a local businessman and district councillor has spoken out on the issue, saying inner city retailers should have got together to flout the law this weekend.

The Government's Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, which is based on Mr McClay's previous legislation, passed its first reading in November with 75 votes in favour and 45 against.

Rotorua had been denied this choice while Taupo and Queenstown have had the right to open over Easter, but Mr McClay said that was about to change.

"As a Government bill we now have the votes we need in Parliament to finally pass this law."

Easter is one of Rotorua's busiest visitor weekends of the year with an estimated 35,000 visitors per day.

"With visitor numbers to the city increasing we can only expect that figure to grow," Mr McClay said.

"Rotorua is a tourist destination and our city's economy depends on the money they spend here. This bill will give retailers the choice of whether they want to open or not."

The bill ensures those who do not want to work or open their shops cannot be forced to and means councils can create their own bylaws. If passed, the bill will affect trading from 2017 onwards. Restricted trading on Good Friday will not change.

Last month Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh, with mayor Steve Chadwick, went to Wellington to speak to a Commerce Select Committee that was hearing submissions to the Bill.

"If in 2017 we are able to be open on Easter Sunday, that would be fantastic," Mr Walsh said.

Meanwhile, Rotorua businessman and district councillor Mark Gould told the Rotorua Daily Post he would have been prepared to flout the law at his Tutanekai St store Gould Photographics if other businesses had opened as well.

"It's a busy weekend for Rotorua, but if you are the only shop open you would not get a lot of business. If everyone was open then it would bring people into town."

Mr Gould said he was not asking for Good Friday trading so people could still attend church services and have time with family.

"A lot of people are not church goers, we live in a multicultural society and many people don't recognise Easter or go to church. There's no good reason not to be open on Easter Sunday."

He said business was hard enough without restrictions on trading on busy weekends.

"I hope the law will be changed by next year. We get a lot of Aucklanders coming down for Easter. They get here on Friday and can't shop. They spend Saturday visiting tourist attractions and having fun and on Sunday they can't shop either. Then they leave on the Monday. We are missing out," he said.

Easter trading rules:

What can be open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

• Dairies, cafes, service stations, pharmacies, real estate agencies, some markets.

What can open on Easter Sunday but not Good Friday?

• Garden centres, cellar doors selling particular wines.

There are no restrictions on Easter Monday trading.

• Businesses providing services are free to open on any day, as long as they don't sell any goods.

Paying staff:

• If your shop is open on a public holiday, you must pay employees a minimum of time and a half for the hours they work. If it is a normal working day for an employee, you are also required to provide them with a paid day in lieu.

• On days the shop is closed, you are required to pay employees for the hours they would have regularly worked on that day. If they would not have worked, you do not pay them.


- Additional reporting Kyra Dawson and Jordan Bond

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