Matariki – let’s celebrate our very own holiday

Tamati Coffey
Labour List MP

If you like the thought of celebrating a public holiday that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, keep reading!

Our government is delivering on a pre-election commitment, where New Zealand will celebrate Matariki as a public holiday from June 24, 2022. The date for the Matariki public holiday will shift each year, to align with the Māori lunar calendar. And the best part is, it will always be on a Friday.

This will be our first public holiday that officially recognises Te Ao Māori knowledge, which has been at the heart of the decision making. Recognised experts in Te Ao Māori have led this process, providing advice and engaging with various communities, who have been grateful for their guidance.

Matariki is the Māori name for the constellations collectively called the Pleiades. It refers to a cluster of stars that rises in mid-Winter, marking the start of the traditional Māori New Year.

This new long weekend will allow people to travel to their hometowns or around our regions, and spend time with their whānau, which ties into the old Māori proverb ‘Matariki hunga nui’ which means Matariki which brings us together.

As a country that celebrates the Queen’s Birthday (on a day which isn’t actually her birthday) and Boxing Day (which has come to represent discounted shopping bargains), isn’t it great that we are starting to reclaim our own special days as part of our annual calendar, whilst honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the role Māori knowledge has to play.


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