The Rotorua Daily Post asked the region's political candidates for their views on Easter trading.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay: Easter is one of Rotorua's busiest weekends where we have an influx of visitors from all over the world. It seems ridiculous in today's day and age Taupo and Queenstown are open for business but Rotorua is not. I'm in favour of choice. Choice as to whether you want to work or not, choice about opening your shop or not, and choice about you deciding if you spend time with your family or go to church on Easter Sunday. For this reason I have agreed to work with Mayor [Steve] Chadwick to offer Rotorua people this choice through a change to Easter trading rules for Easter Sunday.
Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell: Easter trading hours always provoke some confusion across Waiariki. There are valid points raised by both sides - staff should be able to celebrate religious holidays, but there are inconsistencies between what types of shops are exempt depending on the town they are in. There are staff who appreciate not having the pressure of working statutory holidays and there are some who could do with the time and a half or the day in lieu for working.
There have been attempts to change the law in Parliament, and having heard strong submissions, mainly against law changes, we have usually voted against the bills. I welcome feedback from my constituents.
Labour Party Rotorua electorate candidate Tamati Coffey: Easter trading is vital to the continued development of Rotorua with Easter delivering our largest domestic visitor influx of the year. The law restricts us from being able to capitalise on events held during this time, especially as Easter is the last major holiday period of the year and leads in to what can be a slow winter for retail and tourism industries. As New Zealand's premier visitor destination we fall behind Queenstown and Taupo, who are allowed to trade. I strongly support any change in law which would allow Rotorua, or any region, to decide if Easter trading is best for them. After speaking with retailers and the tourism industry, I know they are in favour of this.
Labour Party Waiariki electorate candidate Rawiri Waititi: The Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act is over 20 years old and as such, I believe it needs to be amended to cater for a modern society. Rotorua will follow other towns like Queenstown and Taupo, who have had legislative changes to allow them to trade during Easter. However, there needs to be flexibility around changes to protect employees, employers and business owners who believe in Easter and its religious significance. I agree with the notion that employers and businesses be given the choice to trade, employees be given the choice to work and consumers given the choice to buy.
Mana Party Waiariki electorate candidate Annette Sykes: Mana is opposed to Easter trading. Easter is whanau time and many plan reunions and unveilings over the four-day weekend - not to mention iwi events like the Hui Ahurei a Tuhoe and the Catholic Church's Hui Aranga. Easter is the only guaranteed four-day weekend in the whole year. It needs to be protected so people can take time out and join with their whanau, hapu, iwi, marae and faith. Easter trading in Rotorua would mean no Easter leave for most workers who would miss out on important whanau time.