Tauranga City Council has adopted a citywide policy to enable Easter Sunday trading in 2018, after hearing submissions both for and against the proposal and discussing it at length.
With nine councillors present, due to the absence of Max Mason, there was some talk Mayor Greg Brownless might be required to use his casting vote.
However, with the vote at 3-4, councillor Steve Morris voted in favour of the proposal – albeit with a ‘heavy heart'.
“I've been doing the numbers and it seems the shop policy will pass that trading will be allowed,” says Steve. “I was seeing whether we could put you in the position of having the casting vote, but I think it's going to go that way.
“There's a couple of things that do weigh very heavily on my mind. I'm a Christian and it's very important to me. However, I very strongly believe the days that we keep as holidays aren't as important as how we live for the rest of the year.”
He questioned whether the council would receive as many submissions when dealing with the homeless issue.
“I think that is a more important issue for people of faith to come and actually submit on, personally,” says Steve.
He says he voted for it because he would be a hypocrite if he didn't. Last Easter Sunday he went to church in the morning and worked on council papers in the afternoon.
He related how another time he turned up at Pak N Save for fuel and food to take the family boating, finding the gate was locked.
“If we want to keep our traditions alive, if we want to change our country, we need to reflect on how we live, not what holidays we get.”
Mayor Greg Brownless says in the end people have to decide in their own heart what they want to do: if they want to shop or not, if they want to trade or not.
“So we have to leave this up to personal choice, and to democracy.”
The motion was carried with coucillors Larry Baldock, Catherine Stewart and deputy mayor Kelvin Clout voting against it.
Facts and figures
• 897 formal submissions were received, with 444 (49.5 per cent) supporting the adoption of a policy allowing trading on Easter Sunday across the whole city, and 453 (50.5 per cent) not supporting a policy.
• The separate telephone survey of 401 residents showed 60 per cent support for Easter Sunday trading, 38 per cent opposition, and 2 per cent of people didn't know.
• The telephone survey results aligned with those of the informal pre-consultation survey, where of 5736 responses, 49 per cent showed support for full unrestricted trading on Easter Sunday, 15 per cent supported trading in specific zones, and 36 per cent were against Easter Sunday trading.
What this means
• The policy will take effect on January 1, 2018, and all shops in Tauranga are now able to trade on Easter Sunday, if they wish to.
• This applies to the entire city, including all suburbs – Papamoa, Mount Maunganui, Bethlehem, Greerton etc.
• Employees are entitled by law to refuse to work on Easter Sunday, without having to give a reason. If they choose to work, they will receive normal pay as Easter Sunday is not a public holiday;
• Good Friday remains a public holiday with no trading.
• This does not override liquor licensing provisions. If a venue could not previously sell alcohol on Easter Sunday, the policy does not change that. Alcohol will continue to only be sold with a meal at restaurants and cafés.