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Harawira: Easter Trading Amendment Bill

Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Easter Trading) Amendment Bill
Hone Harawira, Maori Party Employment Spokesperson
Wednesday 14 June 2006

The rising of the Matariki in the north-eastern sky in June, is significant to many people in the South Pacific. For Maori, the Matariki marks the turning point of the seasons, a time to reflect on the year gone by and to plan for the days ahead.

Matariki is a time to celebrate a new dawn, to embrace new growth, and to practice and express our spiritual beliefs and values, and for Maori people from throughout this great nation of ours to switch to the Maori roll.

The Maori Party knows the importance of Matariki to Maori throughout Aotearoa, and it is with that knowledge that we come to the second saga of the Easter Trading series; indeed to a second and separate bill on Easter Trading itself.

That appreciation helps us understand the importance of honoring Easter's Christian traditions for Maori and other New Zealanders, and I raise here the objections from the Anglican Archbishops in Aotearoa who say the Easter Trading Bills are ill-conceived, and will strip away family freedoms and workers' rights.

Mr Speaker, Maori - regardless of iwi, regardless of birthplace, and regardless of occupation, still cling to many traditional spiritual practices, and after many years of dawn karakia, openings, blessings and tangihanga, I know that our desire to worship and to share our spiritual practices with one another, remains one of the features which still binds us as a people today.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is aware of the historical, spiritual and religious significance of Easter, but we are not unaware of the economic realities facing our people either, and we stand by our responsibility to raise the status of those most in need in Aotearoa.

Mr Speaker, I raise again the ugly reality of poverty in Aotearoa, and I point also to the cold hard facts of 230,000 children living in poverty in a time of conspicuous wealth, and a time when political parties can blithely break the law and then seek absolution for their crimes not through the payment of penance, but the passing of dodgy legislation.

People in Taupo and Queenstown have an opportunity to bring more money into the household by being able to work through Easter, but for others in Rotorua and Wanaka that opportunity has been denied them.

It is because of those anomalies that we are happy to support this Bill through to first reading.

And speaking of anomalies, in looking at some of the geographical exemptions carried over in the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act of the 1990s it is apparent how silly the application of the law has been.

For example, in the Richmond Court in Thames you can trade on Easter Sunday, as long as it falls in March, in the Mariners' Mall in Picton you can only open if there's a cruise ship in port, and in one of the more bizarre twists, in the Carnegie Centre in Dunedin, you can only sell toys and books on an Easter Sunday, while performances are happening on the mezzanine floor.

The law is crazy, it benefits some and denies others, and it simply doesn't make sense. There is too much legislation being passed through this House which fits those criteria, and the Maori Party wants to see laws made simple, clear, and equitable.

To be honest, I'm not overly fussed with new laws which jeopardise quality family time. Sundays for me are precious moments at home - soaking up the sun, even in the winter the weather is always fine in the far north, resting the soul, talking to the kids, catching up with the whanau, and stacking up the zeds.

So I'm not happy at the thought that some time down the track my moko is going to say to me on a Sunday, "sorry papa - gotta go to work". It'll be nice though if he has a choice; if he can say "hey paps, they wanted me to work but I said no, and they were sweet."

Stevie Chadwick has promised to protect workers rights in her Bill, and although I'm naturally suspicious about people promising to look after the workers, I'll take her at her word and be watching this Bill through select committee stage to see those rights are indeed protected in legislation.

So as we look forward to the Matariki, the Maori Party will support this Bill through to first reading, and listen carefully to the submissions made by those who also have the interests of the family at heart to ensure that in advancing our economic situation, we don't take our society backwards.

Kia ora koutou katoa.


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