Friday 10 April 2015

The Easter Asylum

I love @feminoptimal's compilation of the bits of insanity that apply under New Zealand's Easter trading laws.
* You can’t buy alcohol off-license on Friday, you can on Saturday, but you can’t on Sunday.
* Unless you’re at a tavern with the primary intention of dining, in which case they can serve alcohol with your meal.
* But the tavern is only allowed to be open to sell ready-to-eat food, and whether or not that counts as dining is hard to tell.
* If you’re at a restaurant or on a ferry, alcohol is fine. But they can only sell ready-to-eat food, too.
* After your meal, you can visit a hairdresser to get your hair cut, but you can’t buy any hair product to take home with you. Except on Saturday, when you can.
* On your way home you can’t get a takeaway coffee, but you can buy a muffin from a coffee cart.
* Your afternoon plans in the garden are sweet as, no problem, so long as you visit a garden centre for your supplies, and so long as it’s Sunday. On Friday, gardening is right out.
* Even on Sunday you’ll be out of luck at your local hardware store, which can’t open at all, despite being 50% garden centre.
* Unless you’re in Queenstown, where none of the above restrictions apply.
* And this is all in aid of a religious celebration with limited observance even among its followers, who are rapidly falling in importance within New Zealand (from 69% of the population in 1991 to 43% in 2013), and yet who still get to inflict bizarre and groundless religious prohibitions on the majority.
This is now a secular country. The 2013 Census recorded more than half of New Zealanders as being without religion. How much longer before we can hope for a referendum to do away with these crazy religious restrictions?
I agree entirely with her assessment.

I know the Easter-apologists say it's easy to plan around these bits and that they like it that everybody's forced to have the same day off at the same time where the costs are low by their assumption.

One minor anecdote as counter to that. We went up to Auckland for the Easter weekend, figuring all the Auckland people would have headed north. We rented a holiday house in Eastern Bay that was advertised as having the linens supplied. On arrival Friday morning, we found no towels and no sheets. And it was illegal for anybody to sell us a freaking towel or sheet on the Friday. We made do for the night - luckily, we'd brought a couple of spare towels along for the beach - then bought some on the Saturday.

If you think your god says it should illegal for me to buy a towel on a Friday, or to be able to get sheets for the kids when a rental house screws things up, are you really sure that you're worshipping one of the good deities?

We did enjoy Kelly Tartans' aquarium on the Sunday though. Illegal to buy a towel but legal to look at fish.

Update: A stab at a compromise solution


  1. Because I was better organised than you, I found myself in the supermarket on Thursday and asked the checkout people what their weekend plans were. I was struck by how a whole bunch of them (its a small local supermarket and everyone can hear everyone) turned around and said how great is was that they would get a day off at the same time as their friends and family. A little treat that we used to take for granted. So 'yes' I think its miserable of people like "feminoptimal's" to complain about others getting a couple of days off on days which I am pretty sure they take off for granted. And 'yes' I suspect you have a fair-trading complaint with your accommodation provider.

  2. I had exactly the same experience as VMC -- in fact one of the ladies on the checkout was nearly crying because she could have two days so close together at home with her school-aged kids and husband. (She normally worked 10 hour days on Thursday to Sunday because her husband could look after the kids at the weekend). Regardless of your religious views perhaps allowing service workers to have three days a year is worth doing, in fact why should we not have a "closed to everything" day once a month?

    BTW - I think your issue is less about not being able to buy sheets and towels and more about false advertising and taking money without providing the services at an acceptable level. So I am puzzled about why you made your post about the former, and not the latter?

  3. We have statutory holidays where shopping isn't banned, and where workers can decide whether to take the day off or get extra compensation in lieu. Why doesn't that suffice?

    As for focus: screwups like that can happen anywhere with random-draw probability. Setting policy making it impossible for anybody to deal effectively with random-draw screw-ups, that's a general purpose failure.

  4. Yuk, what a horrid experience. I hope you're not paying full price for the bach.

    I really don't understand the bleating about retail workers getting days off. Everyone has annual leave, which they can choose to take at the same time as friends or family when it suits. Every time a family has to travel for a wedding or funeral, the whole family takes time off simultaneously; why is this so unusual and precious that Easter needs special protection?

    The miserable person below, who implies that their Thursday supermarket shopping is somehow comparable to your unexpected linen emergency, is quite wrong to assume that I take my days off for granted. I would rather not have them; I work in a team, and scheduling the team's work around a block absence is seriously disruptive and stressful. If we were each free to holiday when we choose, rather than all at once, we'd be much more efficient and less stressed.

  5. 100% with you Eric. There are plenty of university students or others who don't feel the need to be with their family on Easter who would be happy to make some extra money by working.

    This seems like yet another example where people can't see the difference between allowing choice and forbidding choice. At the moment we prevent people from working on Easter. If we accept that some people would prefer to work (and get double time or whatever is applicable), then those people are being disadvantaged.

    If we allow people the choice, we're not making them work. They can still choose to work, so nobody is disadvantaged. Those who choose to work are, however, advantaged. Allowing choice almost always makes the world better.

    An analogy would be student unions. In the (bad) old days you were forced to join a student union if more than 50% of your student body voted to want one. Some people saw that as choice, but I'd say that a large proportion of people were unhappy at their lack of choice. The new situation, where if you want to be a member you join, and if you don't want to be a member you don't, is vastly preferable. Working on easter should be like that - if you don't want to you don't, if you do want to then you do. Easy.

  6. We wanted to have a family drink with our eldest son on Monday before he returned to Wgtn. Wandered over to the local swill-dispenser only to be told that we had to order food, and no, chips weren't good enough.

    Got in the car and *drove* several km to an establishment that serves a significantly better class of beer and yes, chips were fine.

    Government policies seem somewhat contradictory here...

  7. "This is now a [European] country. The 2013 Census recorded more than half of New Zealanders as being [European]. How much longer before we can hope for a referendum to do away with these crazy [Te Reo Maori] restrictions?"

    Good question. I'm glad someone had the courage to ask it.