Tauranga City Council missed the boat on Easter trading this year, but plans are in the pipeline to survey residents and find out what they want for Easter 2018.
However, elected members have different ideas about whether businesses really need to be open over the holiday.
Mayor Greg Brownless says, personally, he has no desire to go shopping all the time.
“I don't need to go shopping every day of the year. But I do respect the rights of those who do want to, and the shops that wish to remain open.”
He says central government have foisted this decision upon local government, with a caveat that public consultation should inform the decision.
“So it shouldn't be up to the individual opinions of councillors,” says Greg. “We should undertake consultation, see what comes out of it, and reach a final decision.”
Some councillors are opposed to Easter trading, but will vote according to what the public wants. Among them is Larry Baldock, who says the holiday is valuable for families and individuals to have a break.
“After travelling in more than 40 nations around the world I have had to make adjustments in my travel and shopping plans due to their many national holidays. I do not think it is a great crisis if tourists have to accommodate our holidays.”
Councillor Steve Morris personally observes Easter, but notes many residents do not and want the convenience of shops being open.
“We are surveying our residents on this issue and at this stage I'd expect broad support to allow trading and so I'd vote accordingly.”
Councillors Gail McIntosh, Rick Curach, and Max Mason are all in favour of Easter trading.
“We've missed an opportunity as the city will be buzzing this weekend with the Jazz Festival and Paradox bringing visitors to the Bay,” says Gail.
“I support consultation with the public, as we would with any policy change. If Easter is significant to some residents because of a religious connection then they can choose to not frequent businesses that choose to trade.”
Rick also thinks a restriction on trade based on religious beliefs seems outdated.
“I'm happy to go with the community's wish, as long as the feedback is from a fair representation of the makeup of the community as a whole.”
Max believes people should have freedom of choice about what they do with their Sunday.
“Nobody is being forced to shop or work in a shop. Personally, I dislike shopping and will first go to church and then spend the day at home with family.
“Public consultation is very important, but it's likely the community will be split on the issue. I will listen carefully, and if there are views I haven't considered I will take them into account when making my decision.”
However, Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout is opposed to the idea.
“I personally believe the two statutory days off are entirely appropriate over Easter. It's an ideal opportunity for retail workers to spend time with friends and family, and also observe this pivotal religious celebration if they so wish to.
“I do sometimes wonder why many people can't cope with a day or two without access to retail therapy, although I admit I am not a great shopper myself.
He says he believes public consultation is required, but would treat this matter as a ‘conscience vote'.
Downtown Tauranga chair Brian Berry says many local retailers would like the option to remain open.
“It's about choice. There is a certain retailing opportunity around Easter in Tauranga, particularly with the Jazz Festival. I think Rotorua, Taupo and Queenstown are areas where retailers are already allowed to open, to take advantage of that tourism opportunity.”
He says he would prefer council to simply approve Easter trading, without consulting the public.
“I would prefer for council to just give retailers the option. I'm not sure it requires a consultation process if you're being given a choice.”