Every year at Easter a small number of hardy shop keepers ignore the Easter trading laws that generally prohibit businesses opening to conduct trade. These businesses cop fines when the Department of Internal Affairs comes knocking on their doors to find out why they are breaking the law. But defiantly with a dogged determination, they might just as well be saying to the compliance officers “See you again next year”.
To some extent I have sympathy with them as Easter is a religious holiday whose significance is obviously not relevant to all New Zealanders. It is also borne out of a genuine belief that the New Zealand trading laws surrounding Easter are out of date. And in the case of one persistent offender, gardening supplies chain Oderings it is not even about religion, but simply about the fact that a lot of people like to potter in their gardens at Easter. With plants and the weather transitioning between summer and winter, the public holiday is a good time to get their gardens ready.
I am personally not so sure that the laws are out of date, or just very poorly written. Certainly they are inconsistent in their application, and about as clear as mud in determining where stores can/cannot open. To that end I believe the Government law change that was announced in 2015 might have been good in intent, but was lousy in its application. By enabling the numerous district and city councils to determine which places shops can open or not, potentially 60 odd different bodies are going to have potentially 60 different interpretations.
Earlier blog articles have mentioned how I think the Easter trading laws in New Zealand need to change. I do not think any further change will happen under this Government. However as long as businesses such as Oderings continue to flout the law, it is worthwhile asking oneself not whether tougher laws are needed for dealing with violations, but whether the premise of the existing trading laws is correct.
Maybe Oderings has a point.