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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The New Zealand Government Has Announced a New Public Holiday to Celebrate Maori New Year

Friday, 24 June, 2022 will serve as the first-ever Matariki public holiday.
By Stephen Heard
February 04, 2021
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By Stephen Heard
February 04, 2021
  shares

In Māori culture the dawn of a new year aligns with the rise of the Pleiades constellation — otherwise known as Matariki. Appearing late May through June, the constellation was once used for navigation and timing the seasons. Now, it's recognised as a time to honour Aotearoa's Māori identity, to reflect, look forward and connect with friends and whānau.

Making Matariki, otherwise known as Māori New Year, a new public holiday was one of the first election promises made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during 2020's general election. Today at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Ardern announced that from next year the culturally significant event will be recognised with its own "uniquely New Zealand," holiday.

Friday, 24 June, 2022 will serve as the first-ever Matariki public holiday. Thereafter, it will move around in line with the rising of the stars. The Matariki Advisory Group, including a panel of experts on tikanga and astronomy, will set the dates for future holidays, which are expected to always fall on a Monday or Friday.

The day off serves as the 12th public holiday for Aotearoa New Zealand and will break up the four-month slog between Queen's Birthday in June and Labour Day in October. Matariki is the country's first new holiday in nearly 50 years.

Ardern said it was time to have a distinctly New Zealand holiday and "a time for reflection and celebration, and our first public holiday that recognises Te Ao Māori."

"This will be a day to acknowledge our nation's unique, shared identity, and the importance of tikanga Māori. It's going to be something very special, and something uniquely New Zealand."

Published on February 04, 2021 by Stephen Heard

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