Why Easter holidays should always be mandatory and retail free



The moaning from retailers that they can’t open the cash registers and worship the consumer culture of consumption over Easter bores me immensely because I’ve always believed that public holidays should be mandatory.

It’s not that I really care about the death and supposed resurrection of Jesus Christ, (good luck to anyone who wants to take their moral compass from an invisible flying wizard who sends his only son off to get nailed to a cross by his own creations), it’s that I care deeply about the need for us all to put down tools as citizens on specific days and all of us venture out into our amazing public spaces and be friendly with one another.

The importance of our civility in public towards one another, the importance of being tolerant of each other while sharing the same space and the importance to actually stop working and enjoy doing nothing but spend time with our family, friends and whanau would do more to building that sense of nationhood than any amount of debate over changing the flag could ever achieve.

As citizens, we have earned the right to have days off, and we need to hold onto this right and understand it is the universal application that is so important. It’s the need to share our beaches and out door spaces together on these days that builds bonds between families and groups of people who would never otherwise meet in their busy 9-5, 5-9 lives.

For those public servants forced to work while the rest of us play, the media should be full of ‘spare a thought for’ type stories so that our public servants who must continue to staff essential services while the rest of us relax are given the respect and admiration they deserve for their selfless functions.

That sense of self identity and nationhood that we always whine about not being present during Waitangi Day takes effort and can’t simply be left up to the ‘free market’. The space where that national identity can take shape has to be universally applied in the form of mandatory public holidays and not left to be traded in by unscrupulous employers who if given half a chance would make ‘Hi Ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go’ the new National anthem.
The thousands of different interactions generated by us all respectfully sharing the same space together on set days would do more for our understanding of each other than a million cartoons by Al Nisbet ever could.

What is the point of being a citizen in a democracy if we can’t enjoy the leisure of spending time outside in this glorious country? Are we really all wage slaves? Is that what a modern democracy has been denigrated too?

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‘I-have-a-dream-to-work-every-hour-of-the-day-by-a-boss-who-is-screwing-me-over’ isn’t particularly inspirational is it?

Enjoy your time off this Easter – you deserve it.


  1. We can either have holidays or we can have the “right” to shop-till-we-drop – but we can’t have both.

    Having shops open 24/7, every day of the day does away with the concept of nationwide holidays. That’s not a holiday, that’s fragmented system of individual days off.

    If people want the “right” to shop whenever, that means that others have to give up their holidays, to be at work. There’s no way around it.

    If we going to go down that road, then everything should be open; schools, offices, government and council departments, etc. No exceptions. Everyone works.

    And if that happens, it won’t be long before we realise we’ve lost more than we’ve gained.

    Pretty soon, we’ll realise that the “freedom of choice” is illusory.

    Some thoughts on this issue in previous blogposts;




    • Frank, maybe you, like Martyn, are too young to remember what it was like when the country closed for the weekend. Hell, I hated it, and I worked in a shop. You were guaranteed the weekend off, but fucking nothing was open. If you didn’t take care of whatever you needed to by Friday night, that was it until Monday. If you had banking to do, you needed to get some time off during the week to go and see them. All Martyn’s romanticised drivel about all being off work together on specific days was in practice a total pain in the arse.

      Later on I had friends who owned a cafe. These compulsory closed days were days when they could otherwise have expected to do a roaring trade with all the people off work, but the government required them to forego the income, for no reason other than some people think everyone should have to do what they do.

      Here’s the thing: yes, I want some days off work during the year. But I certainly don’t want days off like I used to have, with the entire country closed, and if I want to work the day the government wants me to take off, and have my day off on some other day instead, it’s no-one’s business by mine. Martyn and the government may feel that I should be made to have a day off with everything closed for my own good, but these days most of us who’ve reached adulthood expect to be treated as adults and not have the government in loco parentis.

      • If you can take a holiday when you want, good for you. Many workers do not have that kind of flexibility and are very grateful for public holidays. I am.

        • Actually I don’t get to work on public holidays if I want, it was a hypothetical. And if any workers aren’t getting three weeks of holidays per year to take when they want, they should call their local union rep.

      • Goodness…there are 361 days of the year that you can get everything done that you need to do. Four days are reserved that enable families and friends to all have the same day off at the same time so that they can get together for some quality time. Four days that I would hate to see go by the wayside.

  2. Martyn I usually find your comments refreshingly informative, but I wish you had carried out the actions proposed in your 3rd paragraph “the importance of showing civility and tolerance” rather than to mock those of us who follow Christianity. Sadly those comments left a sour note with me – what a pity. But God bless you anyway.

  3. Martyn I usually find your comments refreshingly informative, but I wish you had carried out the actions proposed in your 3rd paragraph “the importance of showing civility and tolerance” rather than mock those of us who follow Christianity. Sadly those unnecessary comments left a sour note with me – what a pity. But God bless you anyway.

  4. Spare a thought for those of us fed-up with long-term, perhaps indefinite “holidays” with few and uncertain dollars to spare. Must be that “rock-star” economy. At this rate it looks like we’ll have to wait for the Second Coming for a solution. A Jesus Christ superstar economy?

    Totally agree with the post, nothing wrong with saving money for a few days per year. A bit of compulsory consumer rehab can’t do no wrong.

  5. Understandable to wanna get away from consumer culture, but making it so I can’t buy food for a day is just damn annoying. If we axed capitalism completely then yea, mandatory days off sound awesome. But if your in hospo/retail, you rely on either time and a half or being able to buy booze on your day off to forget that your being reamed out by Uncle Sam’s global reach around.

    • How do you cope over the summer break when numerous small fooderies state ‘Closed until 15 or 22 January’?

      No fridge? No chilly bin? No foresight? How very urban of you.

  6. When I had a job I used to love working public holidays. I’d get time and a half and a day in lieu. I could use that day in lieu when I liked.

    But I didn’t have a family then. If I had a job now I wouldn’t be keen to work a public holiday at all.

  7. Having most of my life been available for work 7/24 365 days a year I have no sympathy to those wanting a return the the dark Labour led days of five working days Monday to Friday.

    What we should all be working for is responsible rostering so that we are available as above but only work a 37.5 or 40 hours week which produces a wage on which one can raise a family, buy a home if we want to.

    By responsible rostering I compare the morning shift evening shift alternation so common with mindless rostering people who merely follow “how it has always been” with the roster I promoted of ten working days in a fortnight … starting on a tuesday and ending friday week. [ 10 on 4 off ] Then there are the people who work ten or twelve hour days but only three or three and a half days a week.

    The five day 8-5 working day was a good start for early campaigners and all power to them … but it doesn’t really suit everybody, or every working situation or glide time etc.

    I remember the dark days of the five day M-F week and am glad I only suffered from them .for a short part of my working life … it was a great idea taken to an extreme like a lot of extremist try to inflict upon us..

  8. See, what I worry about are the picnics. Where are we going to get our cold sausage rolls and sandwiches for our picnics?!

    All seriousness aside, at the very very least, holidays should be massively punitive. Like triple pay.

    It’s one of those things about capitalism that is REALLY ANNOYING. I’d LIKE to be able to have the ‘flexibility’ to work mornings, if that’s the way I like it, or do whatever roster schedule I like. But as soon as you say that’s ok, employers abuse it, forcing people to work night shifts, to work “two three hour shifts” on the same day so they can get around break regs.

    Yeah, people should be allowed to open and work on easter. But the capitalists were greedy little tossers, and now we can’t trust them with it.

  9. Thanks Martyn for mooting Public Holidays as an opportunity to spend time with our fellow countrymen and women, and potentially rebuild pride in our national identity. Alas, it would seem (from the comments) that a great number of New Zealanders are indeed wage slaves, who demand the right to shop, eat and drink out, and do what ever they want 365 days a year. I do not hear or read of people that can’t pay their tax, contact their social worker, lodge an ACC claim for example. No of course not, for many, accessing public services is not high on the “to do list” on a public holiday. For the most, there is quiet acceptance. For those of us who are essentially public servants Easter is a welcome chance to refresh the mind and recharge the batteries before heading into winter. Public Holidays are much needed and much appreciated.

  10. Without wishing to be too unkind to Martyn I would ask in this brave new step back into the dark ages he would include entertainment, TV Racing, Sport [ ie paid rugby etc] Police …. burglers would love it. Religious leaders would of course be excepted from the work prohibition. I won’t go on ….

    NO the left should as I said be working towards a proper wage for a 40 hour week to be formed by reasonable length days advised by roster at least a week ahead to cover the needs for labour over the whole week.

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