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Labour to make Matariki a public holiday from 2022

The New Zealand Labour Party will make Matariki New Zealand’s 12th public holiday if re-elected, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Labour Leader Kelvin Davis announced today.

The public holiday would begin in 2022. Kelvin Davis says this will give businesses time to prepare and recover from Covid-19, and allows the government to engage Māori about the day and develop educational resources and public events.

Matariki, which heralds the start of the Māori New Year, is determined by the lunar calendar, and therefore celebrations shift dates each year.

“We will work with Matariki experts to design and determine the appropriate dates for the public holiday, but we expect it will always fall on a Monday or a Friday,” Kelvin Davis said.

The announcement comes after calls from New Zealanders for the government to officially recognise the Māori New Year, including two petitions recently presented to the House calling for the public holiday. Tourism operators have also called for more public holidays to boost domestic tourism.

“As I’ve travelled around New Zealand I’ve heard the calls for Matariki to become a public holiday – it’s time has come. It will also be a confidence boost that many sectors need right now,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“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.

“We don’t have many statutory holidays compared to other OECD countries and it would be good to break up the long run through winter.”

“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,” said Kelvin Davis.

“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.

“None of our current public holidays recognise Māori 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,” Kelvin Davis said.

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


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