The Rotorua Chamber of Commerce is applauding a local business for paying its workers a "living wage" and is encouraging others to do the same.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said the move by the owners of Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar on Eat Streat to pay all its workers a starting living wage of $19.80 was fantastic and should be encouraged and applauded.

Owners Tamati Coffey and Tim Smith are now the only accredited living wage employers in Rotorua, something they are proud and happy about.

"For me, it's saying to our workers, 'we are a partnership and here's your fair share', as opposed to 'thanks for your hard work, your peanuts are in the bank'," Mr Coffey said.


"I'm a firm believer that the way you treat your employees is reflective of the way they treat your customers. That's why I know our clientele are going to love the heightened experience of being looked after by our living wage backed and valued team."

Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar owners Tim Smith (left) and Tamati Coffey are paying their staff a
Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar owners Tim Smith (left) and Tamati Coffey are paying their staff a "living wage". PHOTO/BEN FRASER

Mr Smith said the move to the independently calculated pay rate, currently $4.55 an hour higher than the minimum wage of $15.25, also made good economic sense while workers with experience and qualifications were rewarded even more.

"You can't provide our tables with the best service in town when you're constantly
worrying about how you are going to put food on your own," he said.

The bar's accreditation was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ who said just over 50 businesses country-wide could claim to be accredited living wage employers.

Mr Walsh said he could not praise the bar owners more for their move to a living wage.

"It's said that if you value your staff they will give you great service and loyalty. I think it's great we have a business here paying the living wage and their staff will know they are valued."

Mr Walsh said he did not know of any other local business doing the same thing but he challenged others to give it serious thought.

"The minimum wage does not take into account a cost of living adjustment and people do struggle to live on it.

"Businesses do need to manage cash flow accordingly, but we have to remember that staff are our businesses - they deliver the service that you want them to.

"I would encourage every business to look at having the living wage as their starting point, rather than the minimum," he said.

Mr Coffey and Mr Smith also challenged others to take up the living wage cause, especially those in hospitality.

"Many hospitality workers in our country have kids to feed and bills to pay on minimum wages that just aren't keeping pace," Mr Smith said.

"Paying the living wage is fairer, results in a lower turnover of staff and will ensure our team actually get to enhance their quality of life."