We should be able to buy beer with (or without) grub to munch on

Trading hours solved – Witchdoctor exclusive

April 16, 2021
2 mins read

Witchdoctor’s beer guru NEIL MILLER solves the Easter trading conundrum in record time with a few good ideas.

We should be able to buy beer with (or without) grub to munch on

A wise man once said: “New Zealand’s Easter Trading Hours are the envy of 12th Century Constantinople.”

That wise man was me, I said it 15 years ago, and sadly, it is still true today.

Our Easter Trading Laws are a complicated, expensive, and complete mess.

Some types of stores can open, others cannot, but even that varies from region to region. The supermarkets and garden centres that open in defiance of this nonsense are heroes to me.


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There are also so many complications regarding getting a drink. That last bit particularly irks me.

When I worked in Parliament, a backbench MP came up with a perfectly sensible Members Bill to fix Easter Trading. I may have helped write it. Of course, the Bill went precisely nowhere because National is too scared of the Churches and Labour is too scared of the Unions.

In recent weeks, two MPs have put forward proposals to liberalise trading hours which would admittedly bring us up to the standard of 18th Century Constantinople. Both Act’s Chris Baillie and Labour’s  Kieran McAnalty deserve credit – but their proposed bills do not go far enough.

In my view, all public holidays should be treated equally, and the following principles should apply:

  • No business should be forced to be closed.
  • No business should be forced to be open.
  • No employee should be compelled to work – there should be a simple opt-out system with no reason needed to be given and no consequences.
  • Businesses should be allowed, but not required, to impose a holiday surcharge. This should be clearly communicated to customers before any purchase.
  • No food should be required to order alcohol. It is a strange world where a plate of chips is not enough to deserve a pint on a particular day, but the same plate of chips with a piece of fish on the top suddenly is. Food must, as required by law, be available.
  • Normal licensing hours should apply. Venues should not have to apply for special licenses.

It took almost half an hour, but I think I solved the problem.

Now, to wait for Doug Sellman and the usual “public health” suspects to explode with rage to a sensible 21st Century solution that treats adults as… well, adults.

Next time, I will actually get back to cool beer glasses.

Avatar photo

Neil has been writing for well over 20 years on beer, politics, books, pro-wrestling, education, and retail. An NZ Beer Writer Of The Year, he’s written for several beer-dedicated magazines, contributed to our leading dailies and is probably best known for the epic Malthouse Blog, which showcased the beer knowledge and quirky sense of humour he’s looking to bring to the mighty Witchdoctor!

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