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New Zealand Matariki Public Holiday Confusion

Source: Radio New Zealand News (Wellington)
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020
Most recent follow-up news item: September 6, 2020

With the recent mention of the possible addition of an annual public holiday in New Zealand for Matariki (Maori New Year), confusion has arisen as to how that new public holiday's date would be set, as there seems to be many calculation methods for Matariki, giving results often a month apart.

Recall that, earlier this week (2020-05-19), New Zealand 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".

Immediately, voices were heard, calling for that new public holiday to be Matariki (2009-06-17, 2009-06-23 and 2009-07-25).

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.

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, something that is surprising.

Links and References

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