Matariki looks likely to become a public holiday

Labour have announced that if they are returned to Government they will make Matariki New Zealand’s twelfth public holiday from 2022. Greens have also announced support saying they would want it to start next year.

With Labour or Labour+Greens likely to be able to form the next government this looks likely to happen in a year or two.

I have supported Matariki becoming a public holiday in the past. My preference was to replace the largely irrelevant Queen’s Birthday (which is nowhere near England’s queen’s birthday). Cost to businesses of another public holiday will mostly be minor or negligible but will impact a bit on some.

But a mid winter holiday is a much better time to have fireworks and breaks up the current nearly five month period where there are no public holidays.

Labour’s announcement: Labour will make Matariki a public holiday

As New Zealanders we are proud of who we are, what we stand for, and the way we weave together different worlds and cultures to create our unique national identity.

Te Ao Māori plays a large part in not just defining who we are as a nation, but in setting us apart from the rest of the world. Te Ao Māori belongs only here in Aotearoa.

This is why, if re-elected this October, we’ll make Matariki New Zealand’s 12th public holiday, beginning in 2022.

Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders across the country have been calling for this mid-winter moment, and Labour have listened. It’s time has come.

During Matariki  we all come together for festivals, local events, balls and dinners to mark  the Māori New Year.

It’s a distinctly New Zealand moment – and it will make for a distinctly New Zealand holiday where we can come together to reflect, celebrate and plan for the future.  

A little history

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.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades that rises in mid-winter and can mean the “eyes of god” or “tiny eyes”. There are different stories about Matariki, but one Māori myth is that when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens – creating Matariki.

Over recent years, we’ve seen Matariki celebrations grow and this will give Māori across the country a chance to share their unique traditions, history and stories with the rest of New Zealand.

This announcement builds on the Government’s track record this term of elevating the status of our history and Māori culture, including, making New Zealand history compulsory in schools, support for land wars commemoration and unveiling a statue to acknowledge Dame Whina Cooper.

The details

We will make Matariki a public holiday in 2022. 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.

By waiting till 2022, we also give businesses time to prepare and recover from the immediate impacts of COVID-19.

Our tourism operators across New Zealand have also been calling for more public holidays to boost domestic tourism, and we see Matariki as an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our history to the world. This is why we will work with Māori businesses to use Matariki as a tool to connect with international businesses and share our unique offerings to the world in years to come. 

There is some opposition. Newshub: Backlash to Labour’s promise of Matariki holiday from 2022

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA)

…warns the announcement is unlikely to find favour with its business members.

Chief executive Brett O’Riley says it will be seen as another cost and the Government priority should be focused on fixing the Holidays Act.

“We need to see a simplified and streamlined process for calculating entitlements and creating efficiencies for business,” O’Riley said in a statement.

“We understand the cultural argument about Matariki being considered important enough for a public holiday, but it could have been exchanged with one of the other public holidays.”

Fair comment.

National leader Judith Collins…

…also weighed in when asked about her views on making Matariki a public holiday on Monday.

While saying some in National thought it was a great idea, she pointed out the extra costs this could impose on businesses.

“The issue that it is another public holiday that businesses have to pay for,” Collins said.

“We are seeing big businesses having to shed many staff. We are going to have a lot of holidays for people that they weren’t looking for.”

Most employees are unlikely to be disappointed with having another paid day off.

ACT leader David Seymour…

…accused Ardern of being in “la la land”.

“Does she know there’s an economic crisis going on?” he questioned in a statement following Labour’s announcement.

“New Zealanders don’t need a day off, they need Jacinda Ardern to take three years off.

“There are 70,000 more people on welfare, future generations face mountains of debt, businesses are struggling to survive, and Labour’s answer is a new public holiday.

“If Labour wants Matariki to be a public holiday, it should abolish Labour Day so businesses aren’t taking on more costs.”

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters…

…warned that “work and sacrifice is what’s required, not another holiday”.

“Now is not the time, when we are in the throes of huge financial challenges, to start thinking about a holiday,” Peters told Newshub.

“If you want to change the name and call it Matariki, fine, but it’s a public holiday, and as I say, the only way out of this is a word that’s got four letters in it: w-o-r-k.

“One time in the future, when we rebuild our economy, maybe we can think about it. I disagree with an extra public holiday at this critical, stringently-challenging economic time.”

It is planned to start in two years time, not now.

Going by current party polling these objections are likely to be futile.

Petition to ban fireworks “modernising our rules”

Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Gareth Hughes has accepted a the petition, Hughes said that the private sale of fireworks was dangerous.

Retweeted by Green co-leader @MaramaDavidson

I haven’t bought fireworks for a long time, possibly not in this century, so I have no personal interest in whether I can buy fireworks or not.

I’m aware of issues with personal harm risks and fire risks and adverse effects on pets and animals.

But I have concerns. ‘Modernising our rules’ is a euphemism for BAN – rules to restrict personal choice.

This is not the only fireworks petition on the go.

Petition of Chris Eichbaum – Cease retail sales of fireworks

Published date: 1 Nov 2018

Petition request

That the House of Representatives pass legislation to prohibit the retail sale of fireworks, and institute licensing arrangements for individuals or organisations to responsibly detonate fireworks in public displays approved by the relevant territorial local authority.

Petition reason

At present fireworks can be lawfully sold to any person over the age of 18 years. Accidents involving fireworks result in injuries to many, and to young people disproportionately. Domestic animals are often traumatised by fireworks and their retail sale is opposed by the NZ Veterinary Association that has repeatedly called for a ban. Legislation should facilitate public fireworks displays that are managed by licensed providers and approved by the relevant territorial local authority.


Petition of Melanie Lindstrom – Ban the private sale of fireworks and promote Matariki for public displays

Published date: 13 Nov 2018

Petition request

That the House of Representatives pass legislation banning the private sale of fireworks and urge the Government to promote Matariki, rather than Guy Fawkes, as a culturally significant occasion for public firework displays.

Petition reason

The private sale of fireworks at Guy Fawkes is a commercial enterprise that I believe harms New Zealand. We see distressed pets and wildlife, burn injuries, and multiple fire service callouts. We need to shake off our colonial overcoats and be more culturally responsive to our tangata whenua. Celebrating a failed gunpowder plot from England in 1605 makes no sense in 2018.

‘Guy Fawkes’ is not a ‘commercial enterprise’, it is an opportunity for free trade of goods for sale for entertainment purposes. There is very little celebration of the 1605 gunpowder plot in England.

Celebrating 2000 year old disputed history at Christmas makes no more sense, but some old traditions survive. An attempt to ban Christmas probably wouldn’t go down well (ditto Easter and even the recently adopted tradition Halloween).

But a good practical case can be made for moving fireworks use to Matariki, in the middle of winter when it is dark by 6 pm.  It is a long wait up for kids on 5 November with it not getting properly dark (in southern New Zealand at least) until 10 pm.

If fireworks are banned because they can cause harm what else could be petitioned? A ban on bikes, scooters and skateboards? Kids often get harmed when using them. Ban TV and computers and mobile phones? They have harmful effects.

November fireworks fizzing out?

Should Guy Fawkes and November fireworks be allowed to fizzle out?

There are growing numbers of complaints about fire risks and frightening pets, but late daylight makes this time of year impractical for kids. There’s a tendency to get impatient and start at dusk, too early for the best visual effects.

I don’t really care about it. I’ve heard a bit but haven’t seen a single thing this year – and have a five year old in the household. We largely ignored it all.

This is a huge contrast to my childhood, when we experimented with crackers, stuffed a Guy, built bonfires and stayed up late (with no daylight saving?)

NZ Herald editorial: Guy Fawkes Night – cracker or fizzer?

Fireworks, done well, are a treat for all the family. Fireworks done badly, as it will be done tonight, is a disappointment at best, a danger always, terrifying for pets and an annoyance to neighbours. Why do we continue with Guy Fawkes?

For the children, most people would say. Little children get a thrill when Dad lights their sparklers and lets off some rockets in the backyard. Remembering our own innocent pleasure we wonder whether we have the right as jaded adults to deny the experience to the next generation of little ones.

But the truth is, the kids will get far more enjoyment from a real fireworks display, lying on the ground with parents and a crowd around, watching explosions of colour overhead. The sequences are far longer and the variety so much better than anything that can comes in a bag from a store at this time of year.

So why do we persist with the backyard variety? Perhaps because the occasion hardly warrants a public effort.

Guy Fawkes marks a minor act of attempted terrorism long ago and far away. Nobody knows much about it and nobody cares. It’s an artefact of English heritage that would be no loss. It comes soon after Halloween which New Zealand children now mark in American style and have much more fun than a few firecrackers can give them.

How much better, for them and everyone who enjoys fireworks, if it marked an event with meaning in New Zealand. Matariki possibly, which occurs in winter when darkness comes early.

I think that November 5 will persist, albeit on a reducing scale.

It is already common now to have major fireworks displays at New Year.

It would be good to brighten up our winters with a bit of a show – why not Matariki?


Who’s country?

If we had a New Zealand flag that showed us as belonged by someone how would it look?

This flag was adopted as our flag about halfway through the period when Great Britain dominated here, setting New Zealand up as a colony and sending many immigrants from the other side of the world. They dumped us in the 1970s but we have retained their Union Jack on our flag.



If you listen to some of the opponents of the TPPA, US ship visits and many other things involving the US we are effectively owned and ruled by the United States.


If you listen to Phil Twyford and Winston Peters New Zealand is in danger of being owned by China if we don’t stop immigration and foreign land purchases and investments.


Tino Rangatiratanga is officially recognised as the national Māori flag. Some Maori would like to take charge of New Zealand on their own but the Tino Rangatiratanga flag won’t be affected if we change our flag.


This could be Maorified more by replacing the Southern Cross with Matariki.


One of the flag change submissions comprised of just Matariki on a blue background.



It’s designer described it:

The Maori new year is Matariki. It is represented by The Seven Sisters (The Pleiedes) and is, amomgst other things, a symbol of renewal. The red, white and blue colours remind of Britain and the red and white stars of the old flag and New Zealand. I like my design because it represents us all and I like its simplicity and, I hope, its elegance. It’s also “flaggy” and not a logo.

But it is a logo. Matariki/Seven Sisters/Pleiedes is has been known as Mutsuraboshi (“six stars”) in Japan, and also and Subaru, meaning ‘unite’.



Best we stick with a logo that’s more exclusively used by New Zealand interests.