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Tears shed over Easter trading vote

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]


Tears were shed by conflicted councillors yesterday as the South Wairarapa District Council voted in support of Easter Sunday trading.

Masterton and Carterton councils recently passed the policy, meaning shops regionwide now have the choice to trade on the revered day.

Of those in SWDC voting, it was a unanimous decision — though it was clear some of the councillors were voting against their personal beliefs in favour of public submissions, which overwhelmingly backed the change.

The results of a special consultation process (SCP) showed that almost 82 per cent of respondents were supportive of the proposed Easter Trading Policy, and 18 per cent were in favour of the status quo.

Of the 244 submissions, 200 were in favour and 44 were against.

Pip Maynard and Pam Colenso were visibly emotional, torn by the decision before them.

The South Wairarapa District Council. From left, Paora Ammunson, Dayle Harwood, Pam Colenso, Lee Carter, Mayor Viv Napier, Pip Maynard, Margaret Craig, deputy mayor Brian Jephson, Colin Wright and Colin Olds. PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
The South Wairarapa District Council. From left, Paora Ammunson, Dayle Harwood, Pam Colenso, Lee Carter, Mayor Viv Napier, Pip Maynard, Margaret Craig, deputy mayor Brian Jephson, Colin Wright and Colin Olds. PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Lee Carter and Margaret Craig were also at odds, with Mrs Carter opting to make an oral submission and thereby forfeiting her vote on council.

In her submission, she said the Easter holiday for many was about “tradition” and “family time”.

She said the proposed policy was a form of “erosion” as it took away from “culture” and “history”.

“Slowly but surely we are taking away things that are important to us as a society, as a nation.”

Addressing the council, Greytown resident Geoffrey Clark said he was against the policy for both “religious and secular” reasons.

“Shops are forced to close only three-and-a-half days of the year, yet you are deliberating to reduce that by yet another day.”

If Easter Sunday trading was given the go ahead, “what’s next? Anzac Day?”, Mr Clark said.

Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park owner Frank Cornelissen told the council why he was in favour of the policy.

He said people who chose South Wairarapa as a holiday destination were “looking for things to do”, and having shops open would give them more options.

Before making a decision, the council went through the many submissions one by one, discussing all points raised.

Mrs Craig said Easter Sunday was a religious holiday to be spent with family.

“Personally I don’t believe there’s a need for people to shop on Easter Sunday.”

However, she could not ignore the vast majority of submitters favouring the change, and allowed “that to influence” her vote.

Colin Wright said although he would not be inclined to shop on Easter Sunday, by passing the policy “it gives the right of choice” to business owners.

Brian Jephson said the district worked to attracted tourists, therefore it made sense for shops to be open.

Coming from a Catholic background, he said people “worship in their own way” and shops trading would not interfere with that.

Dayle Harwood said the fact that the policy allowed workers to decline work on Easter Sunday without giving a reason meant “employees’ rights [were] not at risk”.

Supporting the proposal, he conceded he “would not be the saviour” for the men who would now be forced to go shopping with their wives.

Colin Olds supported the policy, saying employers were obliged to respect the rights of their employees.

Ms Maynard believed Easter was a time for family.

“And those times are getting less and less,” she said.

Even though she had “lost sleep” over the issue, the submissions painted a “clear picture” of what the district


As a tourist destination it was “just a fact” that shops should be allowed to open.

Mrs Colenso strongly believed Easter Sunday “should be remembered for [its] religious significance”.

But, she said, due to “the overwhelming” amount of submissions supporting the change, “I need to go with what the majority think”.

Paora Ammunson said the policy supported people’s right to choose whether to trade, but further discussions were needed with representatives from all religions in the community to ensure their traditions were not lost.

Mayor Viv Napier said the community response to the SCP was “amazing”.

She was “pleased” residents had voiced their opinions, which was “quite a clear message”.

SWDC agreed to review the policy during its current term of office.



  1. Oh for goodness sakes! All the towns in South Wairarapa are now tourist destinations. It is really nice that some councillors want to hold onto traditional beliefs but please take into consideration your retailers. These people work and struggle to make a living. With the Wairarapa full of visitors over the Easter Weekend please give them a chance to make a living. Times are a changing and you need to move forward with that.

  2. Hayley, wasn’t there but appreciate very much your style and reporting. Could you do this for every agenda item? NZ is multi everything. A written constitution would be my call!

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