Labour to make Matariki a public holiday

  • Supports calls from New Zealanders for a uniquely New Zealand holiday that reflects growing interest in our history
  • A group of experts will help determine an exact date for the winter holiday but we expect it will always fall on a Monday or a Friday within Matariki
  • Beginning in 2022 to give businesses time to prepare and recover from COVID-19.

The Labour Party is backing New Zealanders’ calls for Matariki to become New Zealand’s 12th public holiday.

Matariki heralds the start of the Māori New Year and has now become a time of celebration not just for Māori but for many New Zealanders across Aotearoa.

“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,” Labour Party Leader 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,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Deputy Labour Leader Kelvin Davis said he was proud of the Government’s track record this term of elevating the status of our history and Māori culture.

“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,” Kelvin Davis said.

“A new holiday will help out our domestic tourism and hospitality sector as New Zealanders plan mid-winter getaways and will also allow the tourism industry to market Matariki globally to international travellers as a uniquely New Zealand winter experience in years to come.

“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.

“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.

“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, but we expect it will always fall on a Monday or a Friday,” Kelvin Davis said.

New Zealand has 11 public holidays, counting regional anniversaries as one. Of the OECD countries, we are in the low-to-middle range for public holidays – with 18 countries having more than us, and 12 fewer.

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

Fact sheet