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Easter trading - welcome and not so welcome.

By Stan Stewart.

At last! Everyone was overjoyed to see the town bustling again over the Easter Break. The broken roads did not stop them. Smiles and goodwill were everywhere. Well, not quite everywhere.

New Zealand has strict laws about Easter trading. Basically, most trading in shops and hotels is forbidden on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Restaurants can supply up to two alcoholic drinks to each diner on Easter Sunday, as long as it is with a meal. Hotels cannot serve any alcohol on these two days. In Whitianga two of our three hotels did not open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The third hotel, which is licensed as a restaurant, did open on both days.

This third hotel, Grace O’Malleys, could serve two alcoholic drinks with each meal. But as far as alcoholic drinks are concerned, that was it - only with food. This became a point of contention and aggravation with some people who just wanted a drink (alcoholic).

The meat in this sandwich was the restaurant staff. Regrettably, some of these became the butt of remarks from would-be drinkers. It was unpleasant. The comments and attitudes of some who ‘just wanted a drink’ were un-called-for and rude. Staff were offended and hurt.

A bigger trading issue - Behind all of this are the Easter Trading restrictions. They are not the same in all districts. Take the Bay of Islands tourist hot spot, Paihia for instance. They have no restrictions on Easter trading. Presumably, this is a special case related to the tourist focus of this town. Well, what about Whitianga? The sawmills and the gum diggers are long gone. Tourism is our main source of income. Does it make sense to treat us as though we are a suburb or farming hub?

Caption: Picture is the poster from Smitty’s Sports Bar & Grill, just a reminder there is a need for general courtesy to hard pressed staff and business owners of the town.


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