Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

David Tua aims for knockout blow on Easter Sunday trading law

David Tua is opposing a law change that will allow shops to open on Easter Sunday. Photo / Nick Reed
David Tua is opposing a law change that will allow shops to open on Easter Sunday. Photo / Nick Reed

Another New Zealand sporting heavyweight has come out swinging against law changes which will allow shops to open on Easter Sunday.

New Zealand boxing legend David Tua will join Labour's Pacific Island MPs at a press conference this afternoon, to speak out against the law change.

He will then join others in Parliament's gallery to watch the third and final reading of the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill.

Labour MP and Mangere MP Su'a William Sio has announced the Tua press conference in a press release.

It comes after former rugby stars Michael Jones and Aiolupotea Tonu'u last week said that the law change could harm Pacific workers who had obligations to their churches and families on the religious holiday.

The rugby stars appealed directly to Pacific MPs in Parliament to cast their vote against the bill, which will give councils the power to pass bylaws to allow trading on Easter Sunday.

It narrowly passed another hurdle last week, 62 votes to 59 votes.

Such bills are traditionally a conscience vote for MPs, but National MPs have been told to vote in favour of the change.

Two Pacific MPs - National's Sam Lotu-Iiga and Alfred Ngaro - have previously voted in support. If they switched their votes, the legislation would fail tonight.

Jones is a devout Christian who refused to play rugby on Sundays. He also has links to the National Party.

However, he was critical of the National-led Government for "interfering with Easter Sunday".

The statement by the two former All Blacks was issued by the Labour Party's Pacific chairman Jerome Mika.

Labour's five Pacific MPs - Su'a William Sio, Jenny Salesa, Carmel Sepuloni, Kris Faafoi and Poto Williams - all voted against the bill.

Last week Ngaro defended his vote to the Herald, saying that protections had been built into the law which allowed employees to cite religious grounds for taking the day off.

The ultimate decision on whether shops stayed open was up to local authorities, he said, and communities could choose to keep them closed.

Ngaro said he had not had a single voter raise the issue with him.

"Jones is a good friend of mine, actually, and obviously a supporter of the National Party. But I haven't had a call from him."

- NZ Herald

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