Tourism (and Deputy Prime) Minister Paula Bennett surely regrets her comment this week that tipping is a very good reward for service and New Zealanders should adopt the practice.
Her suggestion has been roundly condemned in our letters columns this week, and rightly so. Tipping is not the New Zealand style, it reeks to much of superior airs and graces. New Zealanders do not feel comfortable pressing a few shekels into the palm of porters and the like on trips overseas and do not want it to become expected here.
And it would be expected. The notion that tipping would remain a reward for exceptionally helpful attention would not last long. First, we would get excessive attention everywhere. In hotels every bag would be carried for us, in restaurants waiters would hover, in taxis the driver would be a tour guide and entertainer. Then, tipping would become standard and employers would not need to offer the same wages.
Tipping is a nuisance to the customer. Knowing when to tip, how to tip and how much, is not always clear. Chances are, you will not have enough small change in your pocket when the occasion demands. It is awkward for all concerned. But worse for the person who has performed the service and deserves to be paid for it. They should be paid properly, not depend on the mood of the customer or the cash he or she is carrying at that moment.
A billboard at Auckland Airport used to advice tourists tipping was not part of our culture. The sign should be restored. Do not tip here, please.