Prime Minister Chris Hipkins defends Easter trading rules

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has defended Easter trading rules which the Opposition has promised to review if elected later this year. 

Under the laws, trading is restricted on Good Friday and Easter Sunday - and the rules vary by region due to council bylaws.

But even if a business can open at Easter, restrictions still apply across New Zealand. In hospitality, for example, alcohol can only be sold to customers who also purchase a meal.

"It's something we're definitely up for reviewing," National Party leader Christopher Luxon said of the laws on Saturday.

The ACT Party has long called for the Government and councils to stop regulating if or when businesses can open at Easter.

"New Zealand's archaic Easter trading laws are a pain for business owners and consumers alike. It's time to get rid of them.

"It just doesn't make sense that bar staff spend much of Easter telling customers when they can drink, how long they have to drink it, how much they are required to eat and what they have to eat," ACT small business spokesperson Chris Baillie said.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood has said the Opposition's concerns were "pathetic" and Hipkins confirmed he voted against ACT's Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill last year, which if passed would've allowed retailers to keep their doors open as normal through Easter.  

"There are only 3.5 days of the year where shops are restricted from trading and I don't think that's necessarily an undue burden on businesses - it does guarantee that most New Zealanders, for a couple of days of the year, are going to have an opportunity to spend some time with their families," Hipkins told AM.

A review of the laws was "certainly not something we're proposing", he said.

Wood accused Luxon of "reducing rights and protection for workers".

"It's a conscience issue, just tell us what you actually believe," Wood said on Twitter in response to Luxon's review promise.

"For my part, a few days to prioritise whānau & community is a small thing & needs protecting."