Rotorua Weekender: Rotorua finally gets to decide Easter rules

Friday, August 28, 2015

Queenstown and Taupo as busy tourist towns can open over Easter yet Rotorua can’t. This doesn’t seem logical or fair. In fact it’s worse than that. Shops on part of Parnell Rd can open, the Christchurch Arts Centre can open and Mariners Mall in Nelson can open but only when there’s a ship in port and the Carnegie Centre in Dunedin can open but can only sell Arts, Crafts, Childrens' Toys & Books (toys and books sold only while performances happening on the mezzanine floor).

The current Easter Trading rules are outdated and frankly seem a bit silly.

Good news, the long wait is almost over. Rotorua is about to be given a choice over Easter Trading. It’s been a long time coming.

This week Cabinet agreed to introduce a Government bill to allow local councils to decide open hours for Easter Sunday. A Government bill means we have the votes to pass this legislation into law.

This is a huge win for Rotorua, and something I’ve been fighting for since 2008 when I made a commitment to deliver for the people of Rotorua.

The bill agreed to by Cabinet this week is modelled on the bill I submitted in 2009. That bill was defeated by just two votes, but it appears the time for sensible Easter trading laws has finally come.

I am delighted that Rotorua will now have the same economic advantages as Queenstown and Taupō already enjoy every Easter. It’s always seemed unfair that these two towns could chose to open over Easter weekend and we couldn’t. A long term anomaly which is about to be fixed.

It is not before time. This is an issue which has been impacting on Rotorua for more than 30 years.

It is simply about levelling the playing field with other regions and giving local shop owners, locals and tourists a choice.

The current laws are a confusing mess of contradictions and you can see why visitors to New Zealand are perplexed by them. In a city as dependent on tourism as Rotorua the changes will be doubly welcome.

It is also important to protect workers who do not wish to work – and retailers who do not wish to open on Easter Sunday so this bill will have those safeguards. These safeguards will be the same as in my 2009 bill and very similar to those put forward by Mayor Chadwick when she was our MP.

Many local people have taken up the fight for changes to Easter trading over the years and I would particularly like to thank Mayor Steve Chadwick for her tireless efforts. This is battle we’ve taken on together.

We won the fight, and Rotorua is the winner.