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Archbishops say no to Easter Sunday Trading

For immediate release June 13, 2006

Hamsters? Or humans?

Anglican Archbishops say no to “liberalisation” of Easter Sunday trading

The Anglican Archbishops in Aotearoa New Zealand have questioned what they call the “false freedom” of open-slather trading on Easter Sunday.

Two bills before the House of Representatives seek to liberalise restrictions on trading on Easter Sunday, thereby bringing the rest of the country into line with the rights given to certain shop owners in tourist destinations such as Queenstown and Taupo.

But the Archbishops, Brown Turei and David Moxon, say the bills are ill-conceived. In the name of “freedom” they will strip away family freedoms and workers’ rights. Furthermore, say the archbishops, the proposed legislation is philosophically flawed.

The Archbishops’ statement follows:

“The market has permeated every aspect of our life. The question that we are faced with, and which Easter Sunday reminds us of, is whether the market ultimately defines who we are, or whether there is any human value that can exist outside the market – values like care for others, compassion for those in need, justice, integrity, hope.

“Are we simply consumers, running like hamsters on a wheel in a marketplace, or is there more to us than this?

“We believe that there is more to life than this. The reality of Easter Sunday shows that who we are as human beings is not ultimately determined by the market place, by wealth, or by economics. No amount of lobbying by a relatively small group of certain business interests is going to change that fact.

“For Christians, Easter Sunday is more than just a public holiday. It’s a day on which we celebrate the way the world is changed forever through the death and life of history’s most significant figure.

“Easter Sunday is not a statutory public holiday, and workers are not adequately protected by employment law. If the proposed legislation is enacted, they will be placed under pressure to work on that day, and to be separated from their families.

“What we require is legislation which represents the interests of all people, not simply the economically and commercially powerful. We believe neither of the proposed changes to the law serve the best interests of most New Zealanders. Neither do they do credit to all we are as human beings.

“The proposed legislation is not about creating a freedom that did not previously exist. It’s about trading in an existing freedom – to have one day of the year free from commercial obligations – to serve the market. It is therefore a false freedom.

“In the Christian story we are brought face to face with a choice which Bob Dylan once observed: Gotta serve somebody. There is no abstention.

Gotta serve somebody.

“Who is that going to be? Under the proposed legislation, the answer appears to be: The next customer at the checkout.”


Eds note:

At its General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui in Christchurch in May 2006, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia opted for a Shared Primacy, with the leadership of the church shared between the three bishops who lead each tikanga, or cultural stream, within the church.

The three new Archbishops are: The Most Rev Brown Turei (Tikanga Maori); The Most Rev David Moxon (Tikanga Pakeha) and The Most Rev Jabez Bryce (Tikanga Polynesia).

Because the proposed trading legislation concerns New Zealand only, Archbishop Bryce, who is based in Suva, is not a signatory to this statement.

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