Labour proposes public holiday to mark Matariki

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 7, 2020

Prime Minister and Labour Party Leader Jacinda Ardern

Matariki will be celebrated as a public holiday from 2022 if Labour Party is returned to govern in the forthcoming general election, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.
She said that Matariki will become the 12th public holiday in a year, ‘far less compared to some other OECD countries,’ and celebrate ‘what is unique to New Zealand.’
Matariki marks the Maori New Year since Maori follow lunar calendar, it is a movable event.
However, it usually falls between May and June.

Ms Ardern said that a group of experts will determine the exact date for the Winter holiday will be decided by a group of experts.
“But it will always be on a Friday or a Monday,” Ms Ardern said.
She said that the annual holiday will commence in 2022, to give time for businesses to recover from the adverse effect of Covid-19.

Time for reflection
“As I have travelled around New Zealand, I have heard the calls for Matariki to become a public holiday and its time has come. It will also be a confidence boost that many sectors need right now. Matariki will be a distinctly New Zealand holiday and a time for reflection, celebration and to look to the future as we take increasing pride in our unique national identity,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that New Zealand does not have many statutory holidays compared to other OECD countries.

Labour Party Deputy Leader and Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis
(INL Picture by Narendra Bedekar)

Labour Party Deputy Leader and Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said that a new holiday will help to boost domestic tourism and hospitality sector as New Zealanders plan mid-winter getaways.
It will also allow the tourism industry to market Matariki globally to international travellers as a uniquely New Zealand winter experience in years to come, he said.
“Celebrating Matariki every year will give Māori a chance to share our unique traditions, our history and our stories with the rest of New Zealand. Matariki means many things to many people but for me it will always be a day where I will reflect on how far we have come as a country and be proud,” Mr Davis said.

He said that making New Zealand history compulsory in schools, support for land wars commemoration and unveiling a statue to acknowledge Dame Whina Cooper have all helped to give a voice to a history, people and culture.

“None of our current public holidays recognises Maori culture and tradition. Making Matariki a public holiday is another step forward in our partnership as a people and a further recognition of te ao Māori in our public life. It is important to acknowledge that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on businesses and public holidays can create additional costs, which is why it wouldn’t come into force until 2022. We will work with Matariki experts to design and determine the appropriate dates for the public holiday,” Mr Davis said.

The last public holiday introduced was Waitangi Day nearly 50 years ago.

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