Easter Sunday trading in Rotorua has been given the green light, allowing businesses to legally trade in the district from this Easter.

However, the union that represents retail workers will keep a close eye on local employers, saying if any of its members are coerced into working it will take action.

Rotorua Lakes Council passed its Easter Sunday Shop Trading Policy by a majority vote today becoming the first region in New Zealand to take advantage of changes to the law to allow Easter Sunday trading.

Tania Tapsell was the only councillor to vote against the policy, saying she was concerned workers could be taken advantage of by their employers.


The policy came about after the Government amended the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 to allow local councils to implement a policy to permit shops to open on Easter Sundays.

The changes do not apply to Good Friday, for which trading restrictions will remain, and will apply across the entire district.

Easter Sunday is on April 16 this year.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce interim chief executive Allison Lawton said a survey of members saw 89 per cent surveyed in support of the policy.

"In the survey, concerns for workers and religious beliefs were the overriding theme for those who opposed the Easter Sunday trading and these concerns were also raised for those members who supported the policy.

"It is important business owners consider their staff during this time and develop fair rosters to enable staff to get appropriate, fair and equitable time off during the Easter trading period."

17 Apr, 2017 6:00am
3 minutes to read

However, Ms Lawton said it was a fantastic move for Rotorua and the tourism sector had been lobbying on the issue for years.

"Having shops open during this time ensures visitors spend more time in Rotorua rather than in competing towns like Taupo and Tauranga, thereby spending more money in Rotorua and creating more wealth for everyone."

First Union communications and media officer Morgan Godfery said the union knew from experience "a few words in a statute aren't enough to protect people from coercion".

"We're putting local business on notice.

"If any of our members are coerced into working Easter Sunday we'll take a claim.

"People working in retail are only guaranteed three and a half days off each year and we think that's worth protecting.

"If people working in retail prefer to spend Easter Sunday with their family and friends they should get to. They shouldn't be forced into working."

Watch the full council meeting here.