29 November 2016
Waipa District Council will formally ask the community whether or not it wants local shops to be allowed to trade on Easter Sunday.
But it is in no rush and intends sitting back to see what neighbouring Waikato councils are planning before consulting on its own draft policy.
Currently only some shops in New Zealand, mainly in tourist areas, are allowed to trade on Easter Sunday. Waipa shops are not.
Today councillors agreed they would develop an Easter Sunday trading policy – but made no promises what the policy would and wouldn’t allow. That would not be determined until next year and any change would not be in place until Easter 2018. This means Waipa shops must remain closed on Easter Sunday next year.
Councillors also asked Waipa staff to work closely with other councils to see if a consistent, regional approach could be developed.
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest said he expected the community would have “very strong and very diverse views” on whether or not Easter Sunday trading should be allowed. Council itself was split on whether or not shops should be allowed to open, he said.
While some informal consultation has been undertaken, he expected councillors would be guided by what the community wanted following a formal consultation process.
“For me it’s about choice. If we do decide to allow Easter Sunday trading, no shops will be required to open if they do not want to. But those that want to, can. Without a policy, the status quo will stand meaning Waipa shops must stay closed,” he said.
“However I accept other people will have different views and all of those views need to be taken on board.”
By law, shop employees can refuse to work on Easter Sunday. If Council did decide to allow Easter Sunday trading, it could not control what types of shop could open, or their opening hours. The policy would only apply to Easter Sunday and would have no impact on Good Friday (which would remain a non-trading day) or Easter Monday.
Mayor Mylchreest has previously taken a swipe at central government for forcing all Councils in New Zealand to consider and potentially apply policies.
“Central government has simply passed the buck on this one and now ratepayers all over the country will be forced to pick up the costs of consulting. We’re likely to see a complete mish-mash of different rules all over New Zealand. Potentially there could be different rules for different towns within the same district – it’s crazy.”
Staff were instructed to find out what other Waikato-based councils were planning before developing a consultation programme to roll out next year.
Media enquiries, contact Jeanette Tyrrell (on behalf of council) 027 507 7599