In a few days time it will be Easter, the anniversary of the death of Jesus and his resurrection three days later. On Friday 29 March and Sunday 31 March, all non-essential businesses will be closed for most of the country. There will only be service stations, dairies and essential services operating. They will be days when non-essential service workers will have the day off, and the few that work will be awarded 1.5 times their normal wage and a day in lieu.
But is everyone happy with this arrangement?
No. Not everyone believes the holiday laws for opening at Easter time are good, and in actual fact, many believe they are completely arcane. A notable example is is Oderings, a chain of stores selling plants and gardening supplies. Every Easter, without fail for as long as I can remember, they have opened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And with the same certainty that they would be open, the Department of Labour has slapped a fine on them for breaching the trading laws.
A particularly notorious example of the law being unfair is in Wanaka. Every two years the town population swells to many times its normal size as the bi-annual Warbirds Over Wanaka, which draws up to 30,000 people a day or roughly 100,000 over the course of its three days to watch an aerial spectacle. But unlike nearby Queenstown, which is an all year round tourist attraction, Wanaka has been penalised by the law. It stipulates that Queenstown and Taupo can trade at Easter, but Rotorua, Wanaka and Mount Maunganui – despite these places swelling at Easter – cannot.
Why should these towns have to be choked by a truly arcane rule when other towns are able to trade without any fear of being penalised? I believe it is time for Parliament to address these rules because it is promoting unfairness in terms of the law and hindering the development of what these places can achieve at Easter.
I wonder what the man who was put to death on the cross 2000+ years ago and rose again three days later, thinks of this rule. He might not agree with the rampant commercialism of Easter, but if it is going to continue I imagine he would want to think it is being fairly applied. And right now it is not.