Horowhenua gets all-clear for Easter trading
Horowhenua shop owners can choose to open for business this Easter Sunday, despite strong and vocal opposition to the move.
Last week, the district council adopted its local shop trading policy allowing the change.
The move runs counter to an earlier survey the council ran, in which 56 per cent of the 169 people who responded were opposed to Easter Sunday trading.
During public submissions, only 10 of 25 people or groups were in favour.
The council’s hearing committee met to consider the change in November, when it heard from three of the submitters, two in favour and one against.
Speaking as a Levin retailer, councillor Bernie Wanden had said it should be up to business owners to decide whether or not to open, and barriers to trade should be removed.
The Waitarere Progressive Association also supported the change. Spokeswoman Sharon Freebairn said Waitarere Beach was a tourist destination and the small community was dependent on visitors to boost its economy.
She said most business owners wanted to have the choice to open and ensure that visitors enjoyed their time at the beach.
The change was opposed by the Levin Uniting Parish. Minister Ian Boddy and spokesman Allan Little said their objection was not simply on religious grounds, but in the interests of the wellbeing of workers, the maintenance of family, and improving opportunities for leisure.
Boddy said while opening would be voluntary, there would be pressure on businesses to open to keep up with the competition.
The committee said though the submissions were split, it should opt in favour of a choice that would remove existing inconsistencies about which businesses could or could not open on Easter Sunday.
Hearings committee chairwoman Jo Mason said the policy review was an opportunity for the council to make a decision that suited the district. It provided choice, not compulsion.
Mason was satisfied there were protections for the rights of workers who did not want to work on the day.
‘‘Looking at the district’s beach areas and the influx of visitors over Christmas-New Year and other long weekends, it would give business owners the opportunity to capitalise on that activity.’’
The strongest council opposition to the policy was from PiriHira Tukapua, who said on Wednesday the day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus was the pinnacle of the Christian faith, and businesses would be blessed for honouring it.
Deputy mayor Wayne Bishop also objected to giving up nearly one-third of New Zealand’s remaining non-trading days.
Palmerston North rejected requests to prepare and consult on a policy allowing Easter Sunday trading in 2016. Rangitikei District Council adopted a policy in favour of Easter Sunday trading in 2016 in recognition of the importance of trade associated with passing traffic on state highways 1 and 3.
Manawatu¯ District Council plans to consult the community on Easter Trading after it has reviewed its long-term plan.
Levin businesses will be allowed to open on Easter Sunday, now that the district council has relaxed its rules.