Monday 21 April 2014

Coordination failure?

Despite Kiwi secularism, New Zealand still has odd rules around shops and bars being open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But, if there's a special event on, you're supposed to be able to get a special licence to keep your bar open.

Warbirds Over Wanaka comes to Wanaka every other year. Fifty thousand showed up in Wanaka (population 7000) to watch the airshow. It's a pretty big deal for Wanaka. You might even think it would count as a special event.
Disappointed Wanaka bar operators have been given a resounding ''no'' to requests for special liquor licences at Easter, leaving a 50,000-strong Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow crowd with nowhere to drink in the resort unless they are dining.
The Queenstown Lakes District Licensing Committee refused special licence applications for Good Friday and Easter Sunday from eight Wanaka bars and one Queenstown bar at hearings in Frankton on Monday and Wanaka yesterday.
The applications had been opposed by Public Health South medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell and Sergeant Linda Stevens, of Queenstown police, who said despite claims to the contrary, the bars were essentially proposing ''business as usual'', not genuine events as required for special licences under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
Fifty thousand people showing up wasn't enough for it to count as a special event; apparently, had the bars coordinated with Warbirds to have plane-themed stuff going on at the bars, they could have opened for the weekend.
Post Office Lane bars manager Tom Wild said Wanaka businesses relied heavily on seasonal trends, particularly Easter, which came immediately before a long, quiet shoulder season.
Warbirds provided an opportunity for bars to ''showcase'' Wanaka as an attractive tourist destination to the thousands of visitors in the area.
However, because people wanting a night out would be denied that option and restaurants allowed to trade would struggle to cope with the huge numbers, visitors were likely to form a negative opinion of their time in Wanaka, Mr Wild said.
It seemed inconsistent that Post Office Lane bars Woody's and Barluga had been granted special licences during the 2012 Warbirds, when there was ''substantially less'' entertainment than the three-day ticketed music event proposed this Easter, he added.
The rationale?
Wanaka bars had tried to ''dress up'' their applications as separate events to cater for the large Warbirds crowd, yet in reality, there would be ''no significant differences'' in the food, drinks, ambience and music provided at those events compared with regular trading days.
Evidence for that could be found in the ''dulling sameness'' of the applications, the intention to trade for a large part of the prohibited days rather than a ''gentle intrusion'', the lack of significant entry fees for the bars' proposed events and the fact licensees had made no attempts to co-ordinate with Warbirds' organisers.
Bar operators had two years between each airshow to plan a complementary event and Mr Unwin hoped for a ''much more significant form of co-operation so there will be an event within the event'' in future.
So, by whim of retired judge Bill Unwin, if next time around the applications are more interesting and don't suffer from "dulling sameness", maybe the bars will be allowed to open. Or maybe they won't. The bar owners don't get to try to figure out what kind of thing customers might want during Warbirds; Unwin gets to. Great system.

Meanwhile, in Christchurch, co-blogger Seamus Hogan timed his garden shopping to allow for civil disobedience:

The Cramptons instead spent Easter in the pools at Hamner Springs. Note that the green waterslide can be very fast indeed.

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