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Call for more Sunday trading

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

While debate rages around Wairarapa’s councils regarding Easter Sunday trading hours others are calling for shops to be open seven days a week, every week.

That is the message from Destination Wairarapa’s general manager, David Hancock, who says Wairarapa needs to embrace its position as a tourist destination.

“We’ve seen excellent tourism spend throughout Wairarapa and the retail sector is consistently the greatest beneficiary of that spend – this highlights the importance of our retailers, cafes and restaurants being open seven days.

“While we understand there will always be religious and moral grounds for not opening, we know extra sales will build over time and being open will become self-fulfilling.”

It was a case of weighing up the pros and cons, of which there were more pros, he said.

“Tourists will spread this news and the marketing value of this will become far greater than the cost of extra staff.

“We’re tourist towns in Wairarapa and we need to face that . . . it’s frustrating encouraging visitors to come to our towns if what’s promised can’t be delivered on.”

Wairarapa’s tourism industry is currently exceeding the tourism revenue growth target of 5.3 per cent per annum based on the Tourism 2025 framework.

This growth means for the year ending November 2016, tourists splashed out a total of $160 million in Wairarapa.

Put simply, these figures show the aim of increasing annual tourism revenue from $134 million (year end 2014) to $212 million a year by 2025 is well on target.

Entice Café has opened every Sunday since arriving in Wairarapa around 11 years ago, and it has become their busiest day of the week.

But co-owner Alice Buchanan said it was a big decision for a business to adopt Sunday trading.

“I guess it’s a hard one – I can see an argument for both sides.

“If you have a business that’s not normally open it can be quite a scary thing to take on extra staff and to take that big step to open Sundays because you don’t know how it will go.”


Retain day of rest


Councillor Bex Johnson said it was important businesses had the ability to make up their own minds.

“I have very strong views in favour of retailers having the choice.

“If it’s commercially beneficial for them to be open, then that should be up to them – it’s mostly frustrating with the inconsistencies.”

Ten O’clock Cookie Bakery Café does not open on Sundays, and manager Julianna Hema said that was unlikely to change.

“It’s not really an option for us.

“The owners of the business are quite religious and the seventh day is the seventh day of rest – we’re a pretty successfully run business and I think opening seven days would be a bit too much.”

Councillor Jonathan Hooker agreed that Sunday’s should be a day of rest.

“The reality is that shops aren’t open seven days a week in this region, and for me the reality is that there are three-and-a-half days a year when we don’t trade.

“My grandfather was born and bred locally and was involved in the labour movement and my mother can remember him bursting into tears when they got a 40-hour week.

“I want that preserved for families.”




The biggest beneficiaries of Wairarapa’s tourism spend are retail, retail food, and food and beverage such as cafes and restaurants.

Retail made up 23.7 per cent of all spend; retail food and beverage was 18.7 per cent and food and beverage cafes were 16.2 per cent.

Interestingly, tourism spend in Masterton is 49 per cent more than in South Wairarapa.


  1. Of course businesses will always have the final say but with over 500? people a day travelling out of the Wairarapa to work, they take their spending power with them. I know I do but when I do shop in the weekend those open get my money, driven by a lack of option. Those with religious beliefs do not have to work on a Sunday, let others who want to work, do so. The regions have to find some way of being viable and prosperous again.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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