Relax Easter trading laws for Rotorua, say retailers

By, Gary Hamilton-Irvine


Local shop owners and community heads are still scratching their heads over long-standing laws that prevent shops opening on Easter Sunday.

The Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990 states it is illegal for nearly every shop in New Zealand to be open during Easter Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and part of Anzac Day.

During the 1980s, 15 exemptions were given to different towns around New Zealand including Queenstown and Taupo because of their tourism base.

Since the act was passed in 1990 no more exemptions to the law have been accepted by the Government.

McLeods Booksellers manager Fraser Newman said it did not make any sense to allow Taupo to be open while banning Rotorua shops from doing the same thing.

"If it's OK for Taupo then it's OK for us," he said.



"I understand they gave them the rights ages ago but we are now a tourist centre as well."

He said it was important for every business to consider staff and their right to a day off but they would still like to have the option available.

The fine for breaking the law is $1000.

Former Rotorua MP Steve Chadwick said the exemption laws should be made to include Rotorua.

"It is just crazy that Taupo is allowed to have it while we are a tourist hotspot and the shops are shut [during Easter]."

Mrs Chadwick said the last attempt to change the law in Parliament failed because there were concerns about worker protection.

She said she would like to see local government given the option to lift the ban on Easter Sunday, in each district. This way each council could work with their own community to decide what was best for their area.

Mrs Chadwick said if she became mayor in October she would take the matter to Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key, who holds a mayoral conference each year.

Rotorua Bible Baptist Church pastor Garth Piper said it was a good thing to have a couple of days off during Easter.

He said New Zealand had a religious heritage and that was why the Easter celebrations were tied into the culture.

"It seems we are getting away from that a bit now," he said. "But I would say I am still for them being closed. It gives people some time to think about God and their beliefs.

"Are their beliefs all about shopping? Have we got to that stage where shopping has become greater than anything else?"

He said in the United States it was at that stage and many shops were open 24/7 to meet demand.

"I don't think we need to get to that stage here," Mr Piper said.

Wild South Rotorua manager Judy Knipmeijer admitted it was nice to have a break during Easter Friday and Easter Sunday.

"From a personal point of view it is nice to have a day off."

But she said if she had the option she would probably come into work because it would be good for business.

"It is ridiculous that towns like Queenstown and Taupo can be open when we can't."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay could not be reached for comment but has supported the law being changed in the past.

Dairies, service stations and businesses offering a service, such as cinemas, are not included in the ban.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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