The New Zealand government on Friday announced that the country will celebrate ‘Matariki’ or Maori New Year as a public holiday beginning on June 24, 2022.
The government announced the Matariki public holiday date for the next 30 years “to give communities and businesses certainty”, Acting Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Peeni Henare said in a statement.
Henare said that the calendar date for the Matariki public holiday will shift each year to align with the Maramataka (Maori lunar calendar) and will always be on a Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Matariki will be our first public holiday that recognizes Te Ao Maori (Maori world) and will be one that is uniquely New Zealand,” he said.
Matariki is more than just a public holiday. The celebration of the new public holiday will be informed by key values such as unity, sharing, feasting, coming together, and environmental awareness, the minister said.
Matariki is the Maori name for the Pleiades and refers to a cluster of stars that rises in mid-winter, marking the start of the Maori New Year.
Some Maori tribes name this time of year Puanga, after a bright star that is above and to the right of the Matariki constellation.
Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood said the Matariki public holiday will always fall on a Friday, which will help more citizens take mid-winter getaways and support the tourism sector’s economic recovery.
A stand-alone bill to formally establish the Matariki public holiday will be introduced to Parliament later this year, and people will have the opportunity to provide their feedback during the select committee process, Wood said.