8 Sep 2020

Matariki holiday would be a chance to learn about indigenous science and spirituality - O'Connell Rapira

From Morning Report, 7:16 am on 8 September 2020

A woman who set up a petition to make Matariki a public holiday says it will be a chance for all New Zealand to learn about indigenous science and spirituality.

The Labour Party announced yesterday it would make Matariki a public holiday if it is re-elected in October.

An exact date hasn't been nailed down, but the public holiday celebrating the start of the Maori New Year would always fall on a Monday or a Friday

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said the new holiday would first be implemented in 2022, to give employers time to prepare.

Action Station director Laura O'Connell Rapira set up a petition urging the government to make Matariki a holiday in May.

It has received nearly 35,000 signatures since then.

She told Morning Report Matariki had been gaining popularity recently.

"There's been a sort of resurgence of Matariki and the maramataka, which is Māori lunar calendar over the last 20 years."

O'Connell Rapira said it would be NZ's first indigenous public holiday if it were put in place.

New Zealand has fewer public holidays than 18 OECD countries, according to O'Connell Rapira.

"We actually don't have that many already and we haven't introduced one since Waitangi Day which was 50 years ago."