Call for Matariki to be a public holiday


Wellington’s mayor is calling for Matariki to become a public holiday.

Justin Lester is suggesting the Māori New Year could replace the Queen’s Birthday holiday, which was not meaningful for many who saw it as just a day off.

Last year Wellington City Council cancelled its 2018 Guy Fawkes Sky Show, moving the fireworks display to Matariki on July 7.

This year Wellington is putting Matariki at the heart of a new month-long winter festival, with $250,000 allocated for the celebrations, which started on June 15.

Lester is being supported by Rongotai MP Paul Eagle who wants to “reignite the debate”‘ and is seeking advice on putting up a Member’s Bill.

A Member’s Bill was put up by the Māori Party in 2009 and was supported by Labour but didn’t get past the first reading, losing 63 to 59, Eagle said.

“It’s a very different time now. Back then people were only getting used to the concept of a Māori New Year but now it’s part of the fabric of New Zealand.

I think people are more ready for it now,” he says.

He said the debate would not have to be about replacing Queen’s Birthday, it could even be an additional holiday.

Forget the propagated myths about “multiculturalism”, because New Zealand is monocultural says Stuff columnist Glen McConnell.

“We celebrate Christian holidays and we get days off when we pay respects to the Queen.”

McConnell says New Zealanders have failed to properly recognise Māori holidays or moments of significance.

Waitangi Day is the only holiday which realises people who aren’t Pākehā also live in New Zealand he says.

The celebration of Matariki is marked each year by the appearance of the Matariki (or Pleiades) cluster of stars around late May to early June.

Once the new moon arrives after the appearance of the star cluster, celebrations begin, lasting for up to three days.


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