Wednesday, 20th July, 2016

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce calls for consistency over observing provincial holidays.

The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to observe Otago Anniversary Day after it successfully lobbied local schools to do the same.

Traditionally, Queenstown’s observance of provincial holidays has been met with confusion – with some people recognising Southland Anniversary (falls on January 17 but observed on Easter Tuesday) and others observing Otago Anniversary (March 20 in 2017).

With Queenstown preschools generally observing Otago Anniversary and primary schools and Wakatipu High acknowledging Southland Anniversary, this causes issues with local employers, with many parents and caregivers needing to take two days off work, Chamber chief executive Ann Lockhart says.

“We’ve been talking to local schools and Queenstown Lakes District Council about this matter for the past few years. It’s been an issue for a long time – Queenstown has historically been aligned with Southland for education and health services, yet from a local government perspective it’s part of the Otago region,” she says.

“At present our business community is disjointed in its approach and the Chamber believes it is important that we work towards a common standard for the sake of our businesses and workforce. The current arrangement means many husbands, wives and children have different days off, so they don’t get the benefit of the same public holiday to have a family day off. Plus, visitors to Queenstown don’t know which day the resort is acknowledging the statutory holiday.”

Otago Anniversary was agreed as the preferred statutory holiday because Queenstown is part of the Otago region. It also aligns with Wanaka and the rest of Central Otago. Queenstown Chamber of Commerce has been working with Queenstown Lakes District Council and encourages the council to formalise the date.

Chamber board member Anthony King – owner of one of the resort’s largest employers, New World Wakatipu – says: “Aligning the holidays will be great for both families and businesses in the resort. Having a family day off work together means a lot to our hardworking teams, but currently it is hard to do that, especially with children at mixed levels of schooling. Hopefully by aligning days we can turn it into a day of celebrations, rather than confusion.”

The Chamber is urging local employers to check their employment contracts to ensure they reflect the statutory holidays correctly, Lockhart adds.



For more information, please contact:
Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart – 03 441 8254, ann@queenstownchamber.org.nz