Make Matariki a holiday

Last updated 05:00 28/06/2014
Matai Smith

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Ever felt like you could do with another day off?

A new public holiday is an issue that seems to pop up on a regular basis - Sir Edmund Hillary's birthday was a popular suggestion around the time of his death in 2008, and a bill proposing that Matariki, the Maori New Year, be made a holiday made it to a parliamentary hearing in 2009, although nothing ever came of it.

Matai Smith, co-host of the Maori TV special Ata Marie Matariki which celebrates the start of the Maori New Year, is all for the idea - providing that a few conditions are met first.

"We're not going to say no to another day off work are we?" he quips. "January 1st is something the world celebrates, so why not take ownership of our own special new year?

"But I would say that this should only be allowed once we are convinced that we as a nation recognise and appreciate Matariki's true importance and significance and not just see it as another day off.

"For me this is a few years away I'm afraid to say."

Traditionally a time for both remembering the dead and celebrating new life, Matariki is extra special for Matai this year.

"I'm actually at a tangi mourning the loss of one of my dear kuia in Gisborne and this is, in fact, the third tangi I've attended in the space of three weeks," he reveals.

"So for me Matariki is a time of celebration, yes, but also a time of reflection, a time for me to reflect on loved ones no longer with me.

"What were their koha (gifts) or teachings that they left behind for me to continue or follow? How did they inspire me in my life? And how can I pass that on to the next generation?

"It sounds rather deep but really, when you think about it, it's simple.

"We all have a short, allocated time on this Earth, so the teachings of the past can certainly guide us today - but also inspire tomorrow's generation as well."

Ate Marie Matariki
Maori TV
Sunday, 8am.

-TV Guide

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