Matariki holiday bill to go before Parliament

Last updated 16:33 22/07/2009

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A bill proposing that Matariki - the Maori New Year - be a public holiday is set to get a hearing in Parliament.

The Matariki Day Bill was one of two bills pulled out of the members' ballot today.

In the bill Maori Party MP Rahui Katene proposes that there should be a public holiday based around the rise of the new moon and the rise of the Matariki or Pleiades star cluster in the night sky.

The holiday date could vary but would fall around the winter solstice.

The bill might have difficulty making process as Prime Minister John Key has expressed scepticism, and one business organisation estimated it would cost more than $272 million in wages as well as lost production.

The bill will find support amongst those who have lamented the lack of indigenous celebrations, as well as those who do not like the scarcity of holidays during the winter months.

The second bill drawn out of the ballot was a proposal to ban imports made from slave labour.

It was proposed by Labour MP Maryan Street which said it would mean identifying countries which are using slave labour to make products and then ban their entry into New Zealand.

Opposition and backbench Government MPs can propose bills and Parliament deals with a set number at any one time.

They are chosen by ballot and usually make very slow and difficult progress through Parliament because of the lack of time set aside to debate them.

- NZPA

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