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New Zealand Labour Party Supports Matariki Public Holiday

Source: Radio New Zealand News (Wellington)
Posted: Saturday, August 1, 2020
Most recent follow-up news item: April 7, 2022

The minister for Māori development and local government, Nanaia Mahuta, has announced that New Zealand's Labour Party would support for the declaration of Matariki (Maori New Year) as a new annual public holiday in New Zealand ("Labour would be supportive of recognizing Matariki as a public holiday").

Earlier this spring (2020-05-19), New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, had announced that the government of New Zealand was actively considering measures to encourage domestic tourism, including amending the Holidays Act 2003 and declare additional public holidays "for Kiwis to come and experience their own backyard", and, immediately, voices were heard, calling for that new public holiday to be Matariki (2009-06-17, 2009-06-23 and 2009-07-25).

But, as today's announcement by minister Mahuta goes on to say, the agreement upon a specific date is not clear ("We would need to seek advice perhaps at the select committee to consider the most appropriate date"). Indeed, no sooner had Prime Minister Ardern mentioned the possibility of a new annual public holiday in New Zealand, that confusion arose, again, as there seems to be many calculation methods for Matariki, giving results often a month apart (2020-05-21).

Our understanding has always been that Matariki, or Maori New Year, occurs on the new Moon which follows the heliacal rise of Matariki (aka. the Pleiades star cluster) in the night sky above New Zealand, around the month of June.

Hoewever, since the Prime Minister's recent announcement, it has emerged that many people celebrate Matariki before the cluster was even visible in the sky, or just after, without waiting for the proper Moon phase. Indeed, Māori astronomer Rangi Mātāmua is quoted in the media as stating that "my system doesn't celebrate Matariki until the 13th of July, and that is because you have to view Matariki in connection with the most appropriate lunar phase. So, it is always visible in the sky before you actually celebrate it", which would imply that he is waiting for the Moon's first quarter phase.

Links and References

Below are links to the news stories referred to in the above "New Zealand Labour Party Supports Matariki Public Holiday" news story, as well as links to subsequents news stories which refer to the present news story.